Leicester team behind major study into the long-term impacts of COVID-19 is highly commended

Posted by: Jamie Sharp - Posted on:

A Leicester team behind a major UK study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients has been recognised by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (a partnership between the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust), the PHOSP-COVID study has drawn on expertise from a consortium of leading researchers and clinicians from across the UK to assess the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ physical and mental health, and their recovery.

Now the team, co-led by Dr Rachael Evans, Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician, Professor of Respiratory Research, Louise Wain, and NIHR Senior Investigator and Clinical Professor in Respiratory Medicine, Chris Brightling, has seen its work to understand the long-term health implications of COVID-19 highly commended for the Outstanding Team Impact Award at the MRC’s Impact Prize.

Research has looked into a variety of issues associated with COVID-19, including patient recovery outcomes; lung damage; breathlessness; organ abnormalities and the role of blood clots in cognitive problems.

Dr Evans said: “The event was really enjoyable – a very special day spent with a fantastic team to celebrate the achievements of the PHOSP collaboration for people living with Long Covid. Recognition of the team’s hard work through a highly commended team impact award from the MRC is highly valued.” 

The PHOSP-COVID study launched in April 2020. Within five months, it had established a national consortium and research platform to understand and improve long-term outcomes for survivors following hospitalisation.

PHOSP-COVID combines expertise from doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, sociologists, scientists, statisticians, and data scientists across 24 universities and 83 hospitals together with 13 charities and patient groups.

The study has recruited more than 7,900 participants from 83 hospitals to obtain 16m data points and over 100,000 samples.

Detailed analysis of this data has led to research outputs which have been influential in informing treatment for people with long-COVID and the actions of policy-makers including the Department of Health and Social Care long-COVID task force, the Chief Medical Officers’ long-COVID group and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

The team’s ongoing work looking into mechanisms that drive the long-term effects of COVID-19 on all organs should help in the development of new tests, new treatments, and improved outcomes for people living with long COVID.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) Impact Prize launched in 2022 to recognise individuals or teams who have made outstanding contributions in medical research.