New research studies to tackle Long COVID in the community

long COVID
© Ronnachai Parkeethong

Four new research studies looking into Long COVID in the community will receive funding worth £18.5 million from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Four new research studies will use the £18.5 million fund to identify the causes, symptoms and treatment of the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on physical and mental health.

Long COVID is used to describe when a person continues to experience COVID-19 symptoms beyond 12 weeks of initial infection.

Long COVID symptoms

Approximately one in 10 people with COVID-19 continues to experience a number of symptoms such as coughing or fatigue.

A systematic review has highlighted 55 different long-term effects, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’.

Living with Long COVID

Amy, 27, has been experiencing ongoing breathing problems after first contracting COVID-19 three months ago. She said:

“I expected to be fully recovered within two weeks, but I actually isolated for three weeks because I just didn’t feel comfortable going out, I was still really poorly.

“At my age, I didn’t expect to suffer symptoms for more than just a few days. Feeling that poorly for that long, hearing all the horror stories and things, I wondered if I would actually go back to normal.

“I exercise a lot and it was really scary thinking that I might not actually get back to that again. It’s quite shocking to me actually that three months on I’m still not really myself.”

The four projects include:

  • REACT long COVID (REACT-LC) led by Professor Paul Elliott, Imperial College London.
  • Therapies for long COVID in non-hospitalised individuals: from symptoms, patient-reported outcomes and immunology to targeted therapies (The TLC Study) led by Dr Shamil Haroon and Professor Melanie Calvert, University of Birmingham.
  • Characterisation, determinants, mechanisms and consequences of the long-term effects of COVID-19: providing the evidence base for health care services led by Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, University College London.
  • Non-hospitalised children and young people with long COVID (The CLoCk Study) led by Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.

Professor Fiona Watt, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, part of UKRI, said:

“There is increasing medical evidence and patient testimony showing that a significant minority of people who contract COVID suffer chronic symptoms for months after initially falling ill, irrespective of whether they were hospitalised. These four large-scale projects will work with affected individuals to better understand and address these debilitating long-term impacts.”

Chief Medical Officer for England and Head of the NIHR, Professor Chris Whitty said:

“Good research is absolutely pivotal in understanding, diagnosing and then treating any illness, to ease symptoms and ultimately improve lives.

“This research, jointly funded through the NIHR and UKRI, will increase our knowledge of how and why the virus causes some people to suffer long term effects following a COVID-19 infection – and will be an important tool in developing more effective treatments for patients.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said:

“I am acutely aware of the lasting and debilitating impact long COVID can have on people of all ages, irrespective of the extent of the initial symptoms.

“Fatigue, headaches and breathlessness can affect people for months after their COVID-19 infection irrespective of whether they required hospital admission initially.

“In order to effectively help these individuals we need to better understand long COVID and this funding will help kickstart four ambitious projects to do just that.”


Further information on the four projects can be found here


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