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Thousands of UK patients to enlist in ‘world-leading’ study on Covid-19 impacts

UK News | Published:

The study will assess the long-term mental and physical impacts of coronavirus on those who were most severely affected by it.

A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample

Thousands of Covid-19 patients will take part in “world-leading” research about the long-term impacts of the virus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

The Government has launched the world’s largest study into the physical and mental implications of the virus for patients admitted to hospital, investing £8.4 million in the scheme through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, a partnership between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the study will draw on expertise from leading researchers and doctors from across the UK.

They will collect data including blood and lung samples to assess the consequences of the virus for those most severely affected by it.

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 1, 2020
Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The study will also look at possible ways to improve the mental health of inpatients, and how individual characteristics such as gender and ethnicity influence recovery.

This comes as the NHS begins to roll out an online portal called Your Covid Recovery, for people who are suffering with breathing difficulties, muscle damage from being on a ventilator, or from mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety and depression, available from later this summer.

Mr Hancock said: “This world-leading study is another fantastic contribution from the UK’s world-leading life sciences and research sector.

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“It will also help to ensure future treatment can be tailored as much as possible to the person.”

Chief medical officer and head of NIHR Professor Chris Whitty said the long-term impacts of the virus “may be significant” and the study is “one of the first steps” in exploring this.

He said: “We have rightly focused on mortality, and what the UK can do straight away to protect lives, but we should also look at how Covid-19 impacts on the health of people after they have recovered from the immediate disease.”

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UK Research and Innovation chief executive Professor Ottoline Leyser said she hopes the study will improve the lives of coronavirus survivors.

Prof Leyser said: “We have much to learn about the long-term health impacts of Covid-19 and its management in hospital, including the effects of debilitating lung and heart conditions, fatigue, trauma and the mental health and wellbeing of patients.

“UKRI is collaborating with NIHR to fund one of the world’s largest studies to track the long-term effects of the virus after hospital treatment, recognising that for many people survival may be just the start of a long road to recovery.”

Symptoms of Covid-19 have varied among those who have tested positive, from those who displayed no signs of the virus, to others for whom it has been fatal.

Patients will be recruited for the study from the end of July, based on representation of those admitted to hospital with the virus, including minority groups.

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