The National Institutes of Health announced a new initiative to study long Covid, and “to identify the causes and ultimately the means of prevention and treatment of individuals who have been sickened by Covid-19, but don’t recover fully over a period of a few weeks,” a statement from NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said.
“While still being defined, these effects can be collectively referred to as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). We do not know yet the magnitude of the problem, but given the number of individuals of all ages who have been or will be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the public health impact could be profound,” said the statement, released Tuesday.
In December, NIH was provided with $1.5 billion over four years to support research into the long-term health consequences of coronavirus infection, and on Wednesday it announced the first research opportunities for the PASC Initiative.
About the initiative: The aim is to learn more about how the virus may lead to widespread and long-lasting symptoms and to develop ways to treat or prevent them. Initially, the initiative will look at areas including the spectrum of recovery across the population and what the underlying biological cause of prolonged symptoms.
Initial research will support ongoing and new research studies, as well as the creation of core resources.
“Through the PASC Initiative, we now ask the patient, medical, and scientific communities to come together to help us understand the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and how we may be able to prevent and treat these effects moving forward,” Collins said.
A study published Friday found that 30% of people with Covid-19 continue to have symptoms up to nine months after initial infection. The most commons symptoms were fatigue and loss of taste or smell, although some reported cough, trouble breathing, muscle aches and brain fog. Nearly a third reported worse quality of life compared to before getting sick, and some said they had trouble performing at least one usual activity, such as daily chores.