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Major long Covid study seeks north-east participants

By Alan Beresford

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PEOPLE across the north-east are being encouraged to participate in a major Covid study should they receive an invitation.

A nationwide study on long Covid is looking for participants.
A nationwide study on long Covid is looking for participants.

Launched earlier in the year and led by the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with Public Health Scotland and the NHS in Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office, the ambitious research project is seeking to better understand how many people have long-term problems after Covid in Scotland, using an app-based questionnaire that will enable people to explain how disease is still affecting their lives.

Using NHS health data records, all Scottish adults who have had a positive covid-19 test, as well a sample of people who tested negative for the disease, are being sent an SMS message inviting them to take part in the Covid in Scotland Study (CISS) study.

So far, there has been a 16 per cent uptake (91,041 participants) – but the researchers are keen to hear from new people as the study continues.

If people agree to take part, individuals are asked to use the specially designed app to answer questions about their health, both before and after Covid-19, and whether the virus has had any lasting effects on their lives. Researchers will also be following up with participants who have already submitted a first response, in order to hear more about their health in the longer term.

Those participants who tested negative for Covid-19 will be asked similar questions about their current and past health, and are essential to the study, so that researchers can compare the health of those who have and those who have not had the virus.

Professor Jill Pell, Professor of Public Health at the University of Glasgow who will lead the study, said: “Most people recover quickly and completely after infection with Covid-19, but some people have reported a wide variety of long-term problems.

"It is crucial that we find out how many people have long-term problems, and what those problems are, so that we can set up systems to spot problems early and deal with them effectively. We hope people receiving new and ongoing invitations to take part will do so, as we continue our study to gather evidence on the effects of long Covid.”

Evidence gathered from patients since the beginning of the pandemic suggests that, for some people, symptoms of Covid-19 persist beyond the expected period of infection. Termed long Covid, these symptoms are currently defined as “not recovering for several weeks or months following the start of symptoms that were suggestive of Covid, whether you were tested or not.

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr Gregor Smith.
Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr Gregor Smith.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith added: “The results of this important study will help us further understand the different impacts of long Covid and I encourage anyone contacted to take part if they can.

"This will help us shape and design the best way to treat and support people who have been affected.

“We are focused on working with clinicians, specialist health care professionals and Third Sector organisations to ensure people receive the best possible treatment and care in a setting that is appropriate and as close to their home as possible.”

Estimates of the number of people suffering with long Covid vary. So far, research studies indicate that the most common persistent symptoms include breathlessness and fatigue, although people have reported a number of other on-going health concerns. It is also thought that some people might initially recover but their symptoms recur later.

Those who agree to participate in the study will be asked questions about their health before and after their Covid-19 infection via an app that has been specially designed to support this research. These participants will then be asked to answer the same questions again 12, 18 and then 24 months after their initial positive test. Some participants will also be asked to take part in one-to-one interviews to discuss, in more detail, the impact of Covid-19 on their health and normal activities of living.

The results will provide insight into the scale and nature of long-Covid the type of support needed.

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