London: UK researchers have received a 20 million pound fund to investigate ‘long COVID’, its causes, and potential treatments, the media reported.
The funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) will help researchers launch 15 new studies of the condition that will investigate everything from brain fog to ongoing breathlessness, using a new technique to detect hidden lung damage, the BBC reported on Sunday.
Patients with post-COVID conditions are variously referred to as having long-haul COVID, long COVID or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). At present, there are no tests to diagnose long COVID and the condition is still not yet fully understood.
The condition can cover a range of conditions, across all ages, such as fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, brain fog and breathlessness, which are not seen to the same extent with other viruses.
One study led by the University College London will test whether everyday medicines such as aspirin and anti-histamines can help people recover. It will recruit more than 4,500 people with long COVID who will be tracked over three months of treatment, the report said.
Another study will investigate the common long-lasting problem of brain fog, which many people say affects their daily activities and their ability to work. Using detailed brain scans of those affected, researchers hope to learn more about this cognitive impairment and how it can be treated.
Further, researchers at the University of Oxford will focus on the causes of ongoing breathlessness, while an University of Glasgow team will assess whether a weight management programme can reduce symptoms of long COVID in people who are overweight or obese, the report added.
At Cardiff University, researchers will look at whether an overactive or impaired immune response could be driving long COVID.
The new research was “absolutely essential to improve diagnosis and treatments” and would be life-changing for those battling long-term symptoms of the virus”, Health Secretary Sajid Javid was quoted as saying. He said it would build on the 80 long COVID assessment centres open in the UK, the report said.