UKRI and NIHR fund study into long-term health impacts of COVID-19

GP examining a patient

An £8.4 million project – funded by UKRI and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – will investigate the physical and mental health impacts of hospitalised patients.

The new study, led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, aims to recruit around 10,000 patients. This will make it one of the world’s largest studies into the long-term physical and mental health impacts of coronavirus on hospitalised patients.

It will draw on expertise from a consortium of leading researchers and doctors from across the UK.

Patients will be assessed using techniques such as advanced imaging, and there will be data collection and analysis of blood and lung samples, to create a comprehensive picture of the impact COVID-19 has on longer term health outcomes.

The study will also look at how individual characteristics like gender or ethnicity influence recovery.

A long road to recovery

Professor Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UKRI, 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.

This study will support the development of better care and rehabilitation and, we hope, improve the lives of survivors.

Future treatment

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said:

As we continue our fight against this global pandemic, we are learning more and more about the impact the disease can have not only on immediate health, but longer-term physical and mental health too.

This world-leading study is another fantastic contribution from the UK’s world-leading life sciences and research sector. It will also help to ensure future treatment can be tailored as much as possible to the person.

A long-term view

Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and Head of NIHR, added:

As well as the immediate health impacts of the virus it is also important to look at the longer-term impacts on health, which may be significant.

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.

This UKRI and NIHR funded study is one of the first steps in doing this.

Recruitment of patients began at the end of July 2020, with the process designed to ensure the best representation of those hospitalised with coronavirus.

The study builds on the UK’s existing large and successful studies for hospitalised COVID-19 patients.

Last updated: 28 October 2020

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