Scarborough mum campaigning for more research into long Covid in children
A Scarborough mum whose children suffered for months from suspected long Covid is helping lead a campaign for more research into the devastating condition.
Frances Simpson’s 10-year-old daughter Saskia and six-year-old son Magnus are still feeling the effects of what they believe must have been coronavirus a year on from catching the disease.
They have suffered a plethora of symptoms, some severe and debilitating.
The family’s experiences have led Frances, a lecturer in psychology at Coventry University Group Scarborough, to co-found support and campaign group Long Covid Kids.
While she says many children who catch coronavirus suffer mild or no symptoms, she wants to raise awareness that there are a worrying number of others who are reporting lasting effects.
“I want people to be aware that this is a possibility,” she said. “There are some really brilliant doctors and increasingly, because people are seeing children with long Covid now, there is increasing curiosity around it.
“There are people who want to find out more but there are some who want to close it down.”
Frances, 42, was the first of her family to start feeling unwell in March last year.
She had what she thought felt like a cold, without a cough or temperature. A week later, she lost her sense of smell and taste and realised she may have caught coronavirus.
In the meantime, her son, daughter and partner had also fallen ill but were all displaying very different symptoms.
Magnus was suffering from insomnia and distorted vision, while Saskia began by having a sore throat and ear ache but became very nauseous and was struggling to take full breaths.
“She was so pale and lethargic,” said Frances. “I had to help her downstairs and she stopped eating because she felt sick all the time.”
Back then, there were no testing facilities for people with Covid-19 unless they were hospitalised.
“It was strange and frustrating because there was no narrative to explain what was happening,” said Frances. “It was horrific and there was no explanation for it all. They were having so many different symptoms.”
Saskia was ill for several weeks and Frances said both children suffered relapses for several months after seeming to recover.
Even now, a year later, while they are much better, they can still feel unwell, especially if they overexert themselves. At the peak of their illness, Frances struggled to find any information about what they were suffering from, which led her to co-founding Long Covid Kids.
According to the group, around 2,000 children have been affected by a huge range of symptoms and there is little support available.
The group is trying to gather evidence from its members in the hope more research will be done into the condition.
According to the World Health Organisation, data so far suggests that under 18s represent about 8.5 per cent of reported coronavirus cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease.
But it says cases of critical illness have been reported. As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.
Last month the Government announced £18.5 million would be spent on researching long Covid-19, including funding for a study into the condition in children.
Long Covid Kids has created an awareness pack for schools.
The campaign and support group wants educational settings to have more information about the lasting effects coronavirus can have.
It says it hopes the pack will help inform parents and carers and show schools that there is support available.
The awareness pack is updated each week and a newsletter is sent out each weekend to those who subscribe.