In an effort to uncover the long-term health effects of the novel coronavirus, researchers from the University of Sheffield will partake in an urgent public health research study.

Infection and Immunity Professor Sarah Rowland-Jones explains: “Taking part in this major national study will help us to learn why some people have these late effects following infection, and to develop better strategies to help them return to full health.”
Professors in the University’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease will offer expertise in fields such as respiratory medicine, cardiology, and immunology.

According to Rowland-Jones, some people experience coughing, breathlessness, fever and fatigue weeks or months after being discharged from the hospital. There is not enough medical, or psychological information to help patients make a full recovery. Professor Jim Wild, head of imaging at the department, said that researchers will look at the impact of COVID-19 on the tissues and blood vessels of the lungs and heart. MRI scanning will also be used on patients to depict the conditions of their lungs post-infection.

“Hopefully our techniques, made in Sheffield, for imaging the function of the lungs will help our clinical colleagues in understanding why some patients with Covid-19 suffer so badly with shortness of breath.”

Researchers and clinicians across the country will partake in the £8.4 million Post-Hospitalization COVID (PHOSP-COVID) study in July. The study is led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre and funded by both the UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health and Research.

Around 10,000 admitted patients who had confirmed or suspected cases of the virus are expected to be involved. They will undergo routine blood testing and lung volume measurement for up to a year or longer. The data collected will help researchers understand the most effective medicine and care pathways for future patients.
Researchers hope the study can reveal specific health conditions associated with contracting COVID-19. These include kidney damage, heart and circulatory problems. The study also aims to figure out why some groups of people recover more quickly than others.
Chris Brightling, professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Leicester and the chief investigator for PHOSP-COVID, reiterates the importance of this study:
“It is vitally important that we rapidly gather evidence on the longer-term consequences of contracting severe Covid-19 so we can develop and test new treatment strategies for them and other people affected by future waves of the disease.”

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