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NIHR launches second £20 million Long COVID funding call

Published: 25 March 2021

The NIHR has launched a second call for research proposals on helping and supporting people with Long COVID.

This call will fund up to £20 million of research on treatments, healthcare services and diagnostics for adults and children with Long COVID who have not been unwell enough to be admitted to hospital.

Although many people make a full recovery following COVID-19, a significant proportion of people continue to experience chronic symptoms for months.

These ongoing problems, commonly termed ‘Long COVID’, may be experienced by people regardless of how severe their COVID-19 infection was and irrespective of whether they were admitted to hospital.

Around 20-30% of people who had COVID-19 but were not admitted to hospital experience at least one enduring symptom around one month later, and at least 10% continue to experience symptoms three months later, according to a recent review of the research by the NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination.

The NIHR has funded a range of research projects to tackle the ongoing symptoms experienced by people who have had COVID-19. In February the NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) announced four new research studies to better understand and address the longer term effects of COVID-19 on physical and mental health. Two further projects on rehabilitation following COVID were funded in December through NIHR's Recovery and Learning call.

NIHR researchers are also tackling the ongoing symptoms of COVID in people who have been admitted to hospital, via the £8.4 million Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID). This study has reported that seven in ten people who were admitted to hospital when they had COVID have not fully recovered five months later.

The new funding call will seek to fund research on four areas of Long COVID treatment and management:

  • Pharmaceutical treatments, including the effectiveness of drugs already being used as treatments, and non-pharmaceutical therapies
  • Treatment pathways and service management approaches, including healthcare, community and social care services
  • Diagnostics, including what tests are appropriate
  • Other topics to help and support individuals with Long COVID

The call will fund research projects designed to deliver rapid tangible outcomes. The projects can be up to two years in length, but shorter proposals are encouraged, and will be expected to start in July 2021.

The application deadline is 12 May 2021, with researchers required to to submit an expression of interest form by 5 May ahead of submitting a full application.

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