TwinsUK to take part in key Long COVID research programme

22nd February 2021

TwinsUK will be joining forces with other cohort studies across the UK to study Long COVID through a key project announced last week.

Approximately one in 10 people with COVID-19 continue to experience symptoms and impaired quality of life beyond 12 weeks, known as Long COVID.

The project, which has received £9.6 million in funding from UKRI over three years, aims to provide an evidence base for healthcare services to define what Long COVID is and improve diagnosis. The project will address why some people get the condition; the typical effects on a person’s health and ability to work; and the factors which affect recovery.

Dr Claire Steves, Deputy Clinical Director of TwinsUK, will be leading TwinsUK’s contribution to the project. Dr Steves said:

“I am thrilled that TwinsUK will be involved in this national effort to study Long COVID and its long-term effects. This research is essential so that we can understand how healthcare services can best support people experiencing Long COVID.”

Long COVID can present with clusters of symptoms that are often overlapping and/or fluctuating. Symptoms vary, but common ones include breathlessness, headaches, cough, fatigue, cognitive impairment or ‘brain fog’. Long COVID may comprise several distinct syndromes not yet fully understood and these studies will help solve this.

Over the three years of the project, the team of researchers will use data from more than 60,000 people drawn from a combination of anonymised health records and longitudinal studies of people of all ages across the country (like TwinsUK).

From these studies, people reporting Long COVID and comparator groups will be asked to wear a wrist band measuring exercise ability, breathing and heart rate. Participants will also complete online questionnaires on mental health and cognitive function. They may also be invited to a clinic for non-invasive imaging to look at potential damage to vital organs, such as the brain, lungs and heart.

Dr Claire Steves said:

“Throughout the pandemic, our twins have taken part in a variety of essential studies to understand COVID-19. I am grateful for and humbled by their commitment to health research, a feeling which I know is shared by everyone at TwinsUK.”

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