Norfolk hospital first in UK to begin long Covid trial


League of Friends shop at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn reopens - Credit: QEH

A Norfolk hospital is the first in the UK to begin a clinical trial into long Covid.

Heal-Covid aims to identify treatments which help protect those who have been discharged from hospital after recovering from their first bout of the disease.

It says more than one in five go on to develop new or more serious symptoms, often involving their heart, lungs and circulation, so it has  launched "an urgent public health clinical trial of national importance. 

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King;s Lynn is the first to take part. It's medical director Frankie Swords said on social media: "Little old Lynn are the first site in the UK to launch this vital long Covid study. Huge congratulations and thanks to all."

Research and development lead Olawale Olanrewaju said staff were already discussing long Covid and the need for a study when they heard about the Heal research.

He said as well as physical symptoms, the team will also focus on mental health issues. Mr Olanrewaju said the study would eventually be rolled out into the community, to recruit people who had suffered milder Covid symptoms which did not require hospital admission.

Patients will be asked if they want to take part shortly before being discharged from hospital. Those who agree will either be given a an anti-coagulant "blood thinner", an anti-inflammatory drug to reduce cholesterol or the hospital's usual after-care.

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Patients will also be invited to take part in surveys on a smartphone or tablet, or over the phone with a research nurse, when they will be asked questions relating to any symptoms and their quality of life.

Heal adds: ""We do not yet know which treatments are best to prevent and treat the increased death and disability occurring in some people with Covid after their discharge from hospital. There are several commonly used medicines that might help, but we do not know yet how well they work, or which treatments are the best. "