IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A lady with a mask on coughing and Covid spike proteins to represent Covid are all around. With a circular image saying Long Covid. The title reads: ME Association writes to BBC News about an article on Covid-19 infection. The ME Association Logo (bottom right).

ME Association writes to BBC News about an article on Covid-19 infection

There is some talk of a “summer Covid wave” at the moment. We all seem to know someone who has had it lately, or a friend who has been off sick.

But have cases really gone up and are there any new variants we should be worried about? What else do we know right now?

By Aurelia Foster


Is there a spike in infections?

Possibly, but it is difficult to tell.

We do know there has been a very small increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital with Covid.

The number went up to 3.31 admissions per 100,000 in the week to 16 June, compared with 2.67 per 100,000 in the previous week.

Is there a new Covid variant?

In recent months, we have seen a new group of variants of Covid emerge, collectively nicknamed as FLiRT.

Among them is the dominant JN1 variant and the KP2 variant. They account for many current Covid cases in England. The KP3 variant, which has driven a rise in cases in the US, has also been identified in the UK in small numbers.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said it needed “more data” on the new variants to understand how severe and transmissible they might be.

People should also avoid meeting people who are more likely to fall seriously ill if they were to catch Covid, such as elderly people or those with weakened immune systems.

UKHSA’s consultant epidemiologist Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal commented:

If you are showing symptoms of Covid-19 or flu, help protect others by staying at home and avoiding contact with other people, especially those who are more vulnerable.

Letter to the Journalist

Dear Ms Foster

Re: BBC News: Are we in a summer Covid wave? | 30th June 2024

Firstly, thank you for producing this news item on the current situation regarding Covid-19 infection

The ME Association is also receiving a lot of anecdotal information to indicate that there is a significant increase in the number of people who are catching Covid

I shared the news item on the ME Association Facebook page last night – where it has attracted a lot of interest. This is because people with health conditions like ME/CFS, which place them at risk from Covid 19, are becoming increasingly concerned about the way in which many otherwise healthy people are carrying on as normal with their Covid symptoms and infecting people who are at risk

I was, however, disappointed that there was no mention of Long Covid because people are still developing Long Covid. In addition, most people with Long Covid predate the onset to a Covid 19 infection that did not require hospital admission and may have had very little effect on their health at the time

The MEA has been pointing out the clinical and pathological overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS since May 2020 and it is now recognised that most people with Long Covid have ME/CFS type symptoms. A significant proportion also meet diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS

I would be happy to provide more information on these overlaps if you return to reporting on Covid 19

This is our information leaflet on the overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS.

Kind regards,

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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