Four major studies into the long-term impact of coronavirus will be boosted by £18.5 million of Government funding as researchers attempt to dig into the causes and potential treatments for the “debilitating” symptoms some are left with long after infection.
Approximately one in 10 people in the UK who have been infected by the coronavirus continue to experience symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue and “brain fog” many months after contracting the disease.
Health 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 regardless of whether they required hospital admission initially.
“In order to effectively help these individuals we need to better understand long COVID and identify therapeutics that can help recovery. This funding will kickstart four ambitious projects to do just that.”
Of the four beneficiaries, Imperial College London will investigate what causes persistent symptoms – potentially indicating possible treatments – by looking at the common factors in the thousands of volunteers who have taken part in its React study.
Data from more than 60,000 people will help define long Covid, improve diagnoses and understand why some people develop the condition in a study from University College London.
Its child health institute at Great Ormond Street will also research the condition in children.
Meanwhile Birmingham University will look at therapies for particular symptoms of long Covid.
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.”