A series of new large-scale studies will test the best ways to treat long symptoms of Covid like shortness of breath and ‘brain fog’.
The studies, which will cost £ 19.6million and be funded by the government-backed National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will attempt to improve understanding of the long Covid and find effective treatments for it. -this.
Some people with long-standing Covid experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, reduced ability to exercise, and ‘brain fog’ for many months. A study has suggested that up to two million people have exhibited chronic symptoms of Covid.
Some people who have suffered from a long Covid, including BBC correspondent Lucy Adams, have lived with extremely difficult symptoms for over a year. Ms Adams described the disease as worse than malaria.
The largest of the 15 new studies, which will be carried out by University College London (UCL), will involve more than 4,500 people who have lived with Covid for a long time.
The UCL study will cost £ 6.8million and test the effectiveness of existing drugs over a three-month period. Researchers will assess how well the drugs improve symptoms, mental health and people’s ability to return to work.
Scientists at the University of Oxford, in a study costing £ 1.8million, will be looking for people who did not go to hospital with Covid-19 but still suffer from respiratory problems. The research will use MRI scans to trace how gas enters and leaves their lungs.
And a study at the University of Glasgow will assess whether a diet can reduce symptoms of Long Covid for overweight or obese people.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who recently tested positive for Covid – said the new research is “absolutely essential”.
“Long Covid can have serious and debilitating long-term effects for thousands of people across the UK which can make daily life extremely difficult,” Mr Javid said.
“This new research is absolutely essential for improving diagnosis and treatment and will change the lives of those struggling with the long-term symptoms of the virus. “
The UK first launched long Covid research in 2020. The new £ 20million package is on top of the existing £ 30million investment in long Covid research. There are now 89 specialist post-Covid-19 clinics in England.
The NHS is bracing for an influx of long-term Covid patients following recent studies which found more people than expected are suffering from the disease.