‘Long Covid’ alert for the young: New video campaign tells of sufferers’ ‘debilitating’ condition in bid to encourage vaccine uptake
- NHS video shows three young people describing their ‘debilitating symptoms’
- Quincy Dwamena, 31, spent two weeks in hospital after putting off the vaccine
- One fifth of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England are aged 18 to 34 now
Young adults bed-bound with ‘long Covid’ have starred in a Government film aimed at persuading reluctant people to have the jab.
The video, released by the NHS, shows three previously fit and healthy people in their twenties and thirties describing their ‘debilitating’ symptoms.
Among them are Quincy Dwamena, 31, who spent two weeks in hospital with the virus after putting off the vaccine and said he thought he was ‘going to die’.
The dramatic video reflects mounting concern among health officials about stalling uptake in young adults.
New figures show one fifth of Covid-19 hospital admissions in England are aged 18 to 34 – four times higher than the peak last winter.
Young adults bed-bound with ‘long Covid’ have starred in a Government film aimed at persuading reluctant people to have the jab. Pictured: Megan Higgins, 25, was previously healthy and active but is now suffering extreme fatigue due to long Covid
Two jabs slash the risk of hospitalisation by around 95 per cent and also halve the risk of getting symptoms.
But nearly three million 18 to 29-year-olds in the UK have yet to receive their first dose, despite all adults becoming eligible more than a month ago.
Last week, more than one million 16 and 17-year-olds were invited for the vaccine as the Government opened up the rollout to older teenagers. Although the young are very unlikely to die or become severely ill with Covid-19, some have struggled with persistent symptoms.
Infection rates are highest among adults in their twenties and Public Health England research suggests one in 20 people aged 16 to 29 have long Covid.
Officials hope focusing on the long-term effects of infection will change the minds of some who have shunned the jab.
They are concerned about rising infections and hospitalisations ahead of winter. Yesterday, another 49 deaths and 32,253 cases were recorded – a weekly increase of 13.5 per cent.
Olympic boxer Ben Whittaker yesterday revealed that he recovered from long Covid with a treatment used by divers. The 24-year-old contracted the virus in January and said it had robbed him of his ability to punch – but sessions in a chamber breathing 100 per cent oxygen in a pressurised environment gave him his fight back
Mr Whittaker claimed that without it he would not have won silver in Tokyo (pictured in his fight against Arien Lopez from Cuba)
The new Government campaign is the latest in a series of schemes targeting young adults, including free Uber rides, discounted Deliveroo takeaways and partnerships with dating apps.
It features Megan Higgins, 25, and Ella Harwood, 23, who were both previously healthy and active but are now suffering extreme fatigue due to long Covid.
How an oxygen chamber gave GB boxer back his punch
Olympic boxer Ben Whittaker yesterday revealed that he recovered from long Covid with a treatment used by divers.
The 24-year-old contracted the virus in January and said it had robbed him of his ability to punch – but sessions in a chamber breathing 100 per cent oxygen in a pressurised environment gave him his fight back.
He claimed that without it he would not have won silver in Tokyo. Hyperbaric chambers treat scuba divers who surface too quickly, resulting in ‘the bends’ – or decompression sickness – in which nitrogen bubbles form in the blood.
Experts claim the therapy treats long Covid as its symptoms are due to the virus starving cells of oxygen.
By Beezy Marsh
Miss Higgins, a special needs tutor from London, said: ‘I could sleep for a week and still feel tired. It’s now been eight months since I tested positive and I can’t even walk around the shops without getting exhausted. Long Covid is debilitating, so please, get vaccinated.
‘I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.’
Miss Harwood, an illustrator from London, said she thought she might die ‘for about seven months solid’.
She added: ‘I’m young and fit but I was bed-bound for seven months with Covid-19.
‘Before I caught the virus I was super active and had no health concerns, but I now suffer with asthma, which I didn’t have before, and a number of allergies. I fear I’ll never be the same again, but I’m making progress. I’m very grateful that I’m still alive.’
So far, 88 per cent of adults over 16 have had one dose, but among 18 to 29 year olds this falls to just 70 per cent in England.
Speaking in the NHS video, emergency medicine physician Dr Emeka Okorocha said most young people hospitalised by coronavirus were unvaccinated.
‘As an A&E doctor I’ve seen a lot during the pandemic,’ he said. ‘But nothing has shaken me like the sight of young, otherwise healthy adults being rushed into our hospitals with Covid-19.’
Tom Williamson, a physiotherapist who also features in the film, said: ‘We’re treating more and more young Covid-19 patients who are still suffering with long Covid and it’s heartbreaking to see.
‘Patients are experiencing extreme fatigue, which means they can no longer do the things they love, and some have had to quit work.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has stepped up calls encouraging people to get jabbed, saying: ‘Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness.’
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