Opinion: Are you suffering with ‘Covid back’ after working from home?


I was intrigued to see a report of a new ‘illness’ associated with the coronavirus pandemic – Covid back.

It’s not really a direct symptom of the virus but more of an indirect one and seems to be affecting the under 30s.

According to the report, the past 18 months have seen a 64 per cent rise in people aged 18-29 reporting back problems.

And it’s not really a surprise, is it? Causes of the problem are being linked with a shift to working from home with many people having to fashion makeshift work stations.

Among those who have reported back pain, 56 per cent said it was in their lower back while 23 per cent complained of aches and pains in their neck or shoulder blades.

Dr Gill Jenkins, adviser to mindyourbackuk.com, said: “For the six in 10 Brits who have been mostly or always working from home during the pandemic and are now hybrid working, almost half don’t have constant access to a table and supportive chair during their working day.

“And unfortunately, 20 per cent have to work while sitting on a sofa or bed. This plays absolute havoc with posture and spine health.”

Dr Jenkins added: “Caring for our backs can reduce stress and boost energy so we can live our lives to the full, without pains and aches.”

Ah, Dr Jenkins, you feel my pain. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been working from home since before the first lockdown.

But I did make a significant logistical error in not bringing home my chair from the office.

And I should have known better. Several years ago, I spent a few months working from home when my employers undertook a significant office move.

I lasted a couple of days using a dining room chair and I can tell you, a chair that is fine for a long lunch is not fine for a day’s work.

So yes, I’ve had Covid back during the pandemic (and I’m not an under 30). In fact, I have ‘Covid back’ almost every working day. If only I’d brought my office chair home with me.

Talking of new Covid symptoms, there is a much more serious side to this.

If you want to book an NHS PCR test to check if you have Covid, you have to be displaying the ‘classic’ symptoms – a fever or elevated temperature; a new and persistent cough or a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell.

They were the things to look out for with the original ‘wild’ strain that came out of Wuhan and also of the more transmissible Alpha (Kent) variant.

But according to the ZOE study, the virus symptoms have changed as new variants have emerged. And it also seems the symptoms have changed if you have been vaccinated.

The ZOE Covid Symptom Study app is a not-for-profit initiative that was launched at the end of March 2020 to support research. The app was launched by health science company ZOE with scientific analysis provided by King’s College London.

With more than four million contributors globally, the study is the world’s largest ongoing study of Covid-19 and is led by ZOE co-founder, Prof Tim Spector.

So taking the ‘real world’ data from the study, generally, similar symptoms were reported by people who had and hadn’t been vaccinated. However, fewer symptoms were reported over a shorter period of time by those who had already had a jab, which seems to suggest they were falling less seriously ill and getting better more quickly. So despite the official symptoms, the current list of things to look out for if you have had two vaccinations are: headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and loss of smell.

Here’s the problem, those symptoms can mimic hay fever during the summer and of course mimic a heavy cold during the winter. How many people, I wonder, have actually contracted coronavirus and carried on spreading it thinking they had a cold or hay fever?

And yet the previous ‘traditional’ symptoms as still outlined on the Government website, such as anosmia (loss of smell), shortness of breath and fever rank way down the ZOE list, at five, 29 and 12 respectively. A persistent cough now ranks at number eight if you’ve had two vaccine doses, so is no longer the top indicator of having Covid.

The advice is if you’ve been vaccinated and start sneezing a lot without an explanation, or develop other cold-like symptoms, you should get a Covid test just to be sure, especially if you are living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease.

It all makes me wonder just why the Government and NHS haven’t updated their Covid advice.

But then again, according to the Government, the pandemic is all but over, isn’t it?





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