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16 February 2022

International trial aims to improve the quality of life for Long-Covid patients

Researchers are leading a pioneering cross-institutional international study to improve the lives of people with the prolonged and life impairing impacts of long-Covid.

Better support may help people with COVID-19 symptoms to self-isolate1

Post-acute Covid-19 or ‘long-Covid’ is a colloquial term used to describe patients reporting persistent symptoms and illness for longer periods than are expected, despite receiving clinical treatment. It is estimated that more than 100 million people worldwide have experienced lingering health concerns or are still reporting problems following a COVID infection, creating an unprecedented demand for health care services around the world.

 To support the implementation of the pathways needed to meet this growing demand, the University of Derby is working in collaboration with King’s College London, Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Illinois Chicago (USA), Ramaiah Medical College (Bengaluru, India), and their neighbouring clinical organisations, to conduct an international Covid-19 recovery trial, sponsored by the NHS Health Authority.

Researchers are working to gather additional insight into the determinants of recovery to better understand the changes in symptomology over time. This work is taking place in some of the countries that have been worst affected by Covid, with research sites now open at the University of Derby, the University of Illinois Chicago and the Ramaiah Medical College with a new site opening at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University in the coming weeks. The research has been made possible through funding from The Gilead Covid-19: COMMIT™ (Covid-19 unMet Medical needs and associated research extension) programme.

Long-Covid is a complex, multi-system disease associated with a broad range of symptoms including fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, headaches, neurocognitive difficulties, muscle pains and weakness, depression, and other mental health conditions.

Dr Federico Formenti from King’s College London said: "Many individuals experience symptoms for months following infection with coronavirus. In more critical cases, individuals' quality of life is severely compromised, and many are unable to return to work. Our project will provide a deeper understanding of long-lasting COVID symptoms and will propose a new pathway to support patients' successful and rapid recovery."

Each partner institution involved in the study is connected to a local hospital and has a dedicated on site research facility. The 16-week trial profiles the recovery of patients with Covid-19 who have been discharged into the local community from hospitals or referred into long covid centres.

Using a combination of physiological, biological, psychological tests and observations through regular patient visits, remote meetings and patient journals, the study aims to understand more about long-Covid and develop clear support pathways to improve long-term health outcomes and restore quality of life for patients.

Long-Covid has left millions of people unable to do the things they once loved. Everyday activities and work, the things we all probably take for granted, have become much more challenging and this impacts their quality of life drastically.

Dr Mark Faghy, the Associate Professor leading the project at the University of Derby

He said: “With the threat of sustained transmission, infections and future Covid-19 variants, there is an urgent need to support patients with optimised and informed rehabilitation strategies to support them in the post-Covid period and reduce the substantial co-morbidities associated with long-Covid.

“To date, there is little data that has profiled the time and determinants of a successful recovery in the post-Covid-19 period. Here we have a collaboration between clinical and non-clinical partners that will enable us to share expertise in this field and rethink how we establish the support needed.

“This project will reveal whole patient perspectives that contain multi-method methodologies and objective analysis to document symptom profiles. This will enable us to create tailored mechanisms of support for patients recovering in community settings and give patients suffering with the long-term impact of Covid-19 their quality of life back.”

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Federico  Formenti

Reader in Physiology