‘Much worse than anything else’: Expert on the hidden impact long Covid has on children

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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Over one million adults in the UK currently suffer from the condition.

While a lot of research has gone into how adults are affected by the condition, far less time has been devoted to children with Long Covid.

The latest ONS report, released earlier this month, showed over 117,000 children live with long Covid in the UK, 117,000 that could be living with symptoms of Covid for the rest of their life.

Express.co.uk recently spoke to Doctor Deepti Gurdasani, an expert on long Covid, to hear her views on the latest Covid crisis.

Since they have not been vaccinated, “children have been exposed to the full effect of Covid which includes long Covid”, says Dr Gurdasani.

Such is the prevalence in long Covid that it has now become one of the most dangerous conditions for children to develop: “Deaths from Covid annually in 2021 have exceeded those from all other child illnesses.

“It’s quite amazing to me how little attention policy has paid to children who are clearly developing chronic illnesses…I can’t think of any other disease in children that has this level of impact”.

Doctor Gurdasani isn’t alone in being weary about the effect of long Covid on children, her concerns are reflected by Stephen Griffith, Associate Professor at the University of Leeds and ambassador for the charity Long Covid Kids.

However, unlike other child illnesses, there are a number of problems with studying long Covid in this age group.

Doctor Gurdasani explained: “The problem is that Covid causes very specific damage to different organs and because of the dismissal of this and the lack of research and the lack of training of clinicians it’s very unlikely that many patients will be able to get the care that they need.

“I think [another] difficulty is we don’t know how to treat these illnesses and we don’t even know how to diagnose them.”

Coupled with the lack of research on children the condition and the situation is stark; there are thousands of patients for whom there are few treatments on which minimal research has been done.

In light of how many children could develop long Covid in the future, Doctor Gurdasani is surprised the topic isn’t being discussed more: “I don’t understand why more attention isn’t being paid to this.”

The growing long Covid crisis amongst children is yet another hammer blow to a generation of children who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Not only has their education and social development been disrupted, but thousands have also become orphaned as a result of COVID-19.

According to an Imperial College dataset, over 12,000 children have been orphaned during the pandemic.

Elsewhere the NHS is experiencing a rise in the number of children suffering from mental health disorders.

Health leaders say there is a second pandemic of mental health as millions of patients come forward requiring mental health treatment.

Going forward, more resources will need to be put into supporting young patients who will need long term treatment for a number of health conditions.

With the last Covid restrictions lifting in the UK, these numbers are only set to climb higher, and the number of youth suffering will only intensify unless swift action is taken.

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