Inquest to be held into death of University of York lecturer and keen weight trainer Dr Ed Rooksby, 46, who passed away after battle with long Covid

An inquest will be held into the death of a University of York lecturer who passed away at the age of 46 after a well-documented battle with the symptoms of long Covid.

Dr Rooksby lectured at the University of York
Dr Rooksby lectured at the University of York

Dr Edward Christian Rooksby, known as Ed, had written extensively about his struggles with pain, fatigue and panic attacks on his personal blog before he died on February 14, and the circumstances surrounding and cause of his death will be investigated by the coroner for North Yorkshire later this year. He had previously been fit and healthy with no underlying conditions.

Dr Rooksby, a member of the University of York's politics department, wrote that he believed he caught Covid-19 during a shopping trip to York city centre shortly before the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020.

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He was queuing to pay for items in a Boots store when he noticed that a checkout worker was coughing violently, and remained in the queue despite worrying that she may have been suffering from coronavirus.

Initially his symptoms were mild and he believed he had made a full recovery, and that spring and summer he committed to an extensive weight training regime during lockdown which made him the fittest he had ever been.

However, in August, after meeting a friend for a walk along the River Ouse, his health deteriorated significantly. He began to suffer from severe headaches, exhaustion, swollen limbs, arthritic pain, and difficulty walking.

The symptoms peaked in September 2020, when he feared he was in danger of dying and woke up with numb limbs that he thought could indicate a stroke. He even composed goodbye Whatsapp messages ready to send to family and friends. He also began to experience vision problems and myalgia.

Dr Rooksby joined long Covid support groups on social media and was advised by other sufferers to take antihistamines, which he found provided some relief. That autumn, when the university term began, he felt unable to return to campus and conducted his teaching from home.

In his final post on the topic in January, Dr Rooksby said he still suffered relapses, with fatigue and poor concentration as well as joint stiffness and chest pains, and was unable to exercise.

He had been referred to both a lung specialist and a long Covid clinic for treatment before his death.

He wrote: "The nowhere I’ve inhabited along with thousands of other long Covid sufferers for months has been particularly alienating. This weird liminal space between not-quite-chronic sickness and not-quite-health, not really one or the other but both, is a no-place in which you can’t really make plans for the future and in which it’s even difficult to dare to imagine a future different to the no-place present - a future when I’m well and can do the things that I used to take for granted again. It would be nice to be able to go for a walk for example or to do the vacuuming without feeling half-dead afterwards. I don’t know how long this is going to last and when I’m going to get better or if I ever really will."

A tribute statement from the head of politics at York, Professor Nina Caspersen, read: "Ed was awarded a PhD in political theory at the University of York in 2008 and returned to York in September 2019 to take up a post as associate lecturer. Ed was a wonderful colleague and outstanding teacher who will be remembered for his kindness, his passion for teaching, and his immense intelligence.

"Ed was a most talented thinker and writer. His new book which set out a creative rethink of socialist strategy was a work of love and thorough scholarship. His pieces in political magazines such as Jacobin and his own blog were knowledgeable, learned, wise, and urgent. For Ed, socialist political theory was beyond a mere academic pursuit - it represented a lifelong commitment to the pursuit of justice.

"Everyone in the department is shocked and saddened by the untimely departure of such an all-round good man. Ed will be deeply missed by all of us."

Dr Rooksby had previously taught at Leeds Beckett University and his post before moving to York was at Ruskin College in Oxford. He had also been a contributor to The Guardian.