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Dundee professor named as Scottish lead in £8.4 million study of coronavirus long-term effects

Professor James Chalmers.
Professor James Chalmers.

A Tayside professor is helping research the world’s most comprehensive study into the long-term effects of coronavirus.

Professor James Chalmers of Dundee University is has been named as the Scottish lead of the UK-wide programme launched on Monday.

The £8.4 million study will focus on patients who have needed hospital care and will assess the impact of Covid-19 on patient health and their recovery.

Around 10,000 patients are expected to take part, making it the largest comprehensive study in the world to understand and improve the health of  Covid 19 survivors.

Professor Chalmers, British Lung Foundation professor of respiratory research at the university, said increasing numbers of patients were reporting long term consequences of Covid-19 infection.

“I am proud to be co-leading this project and that we have ensured that Scottish patients will play a key role,” he said.

“Many of my patients feel forgotten because all of the focus has been on treating and preventing the immediate effects of the virus.

“The message today is that you have not been forgotten and those patients still struggling weeks and months after covid are going to get the support and research they need.”

The study aims to understand why some people recover more quickly than others and why some develop subsequent health problems, as well as identifying the most effective treatments in hospital or afterwards and how to improve patient care after discharge.

Launching the study, UK Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock 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.”

Patients will be assessed using advanced imaging, data collection and analysis of blood and lung samples.

The team will then develop trials of new strategies for clinical care, including personalised treatments based on the disease characteristics they show as a result of having Covid-19.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “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.”

Led by the National Institute for Health Research Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, the study, named PHOSP-COVID, will draw on expertise from  25 organisations across the UK.

It has been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The study will be funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research.

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