Long Covid: an unfolding story with Professor Brian Cox | The Royal Society

With vaccination programmes underway across the globe, attention is turning to the longer-term impact of COVID-19 and in particular the condition termed ‘long Covid’. Very little is known about the condition at the moment, despite some studies estimating that 1 in 20 are affected. Large-scale research projects and population studies are now looking at the reported symptoms to understand what long Covid is, why some people are affected for months, and how we can treat it.

From Youtube description of the video

The event is hosted by Professor Brian Cox, the Royal Society’s Professor for Public Engagement in Science, who will be joined by:
Dr Nisreen Alwan, Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton
Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing, University College London
Professor Paul Elliott, Director of the REACT programme, and Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Imperial College London
Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist, author, and presenter of BBC’s Radio 4’s Inside Science

Transcript from 56.46 in the video

Brian Cox  
 
“There is a common thread through a lot of them which is related to when we talked about vaccines in the previous event, there was a silver lining which is that the research, the research effort that been put into developing these vaccines that knowledge is not going to go away.  I think it was said that we’d made the progress which that we would have expected to have make in a decade in a year. 
 
Is there a similar silver lining, people are talking about other autoimmune disease perhaps or chronic syndromes like M.E and so on. Will this focus research on those sorts of conditions in a way that perhaps may not have happened if it had not been for Covid?” 
 
Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, MRC Unit for Lifelong Health & Ageing, University College London  
 
“It hasn’t happened in the past, and you’re right to say that one of the positives that has come out of this is funding has gone into the kind of research to really understand the risk factors, the mechanisms and the outcomes of long covid in a way we’ve never done before with these other conditions. We do hope that our research will shed light on these other conditions, so that’s a positive. Paul and I have both benefitted from that and the research funders have moved very rapidly to support this kind of research, so that’s really strong positive that’s come out of it.” 
 
Dr Nisreen Alwan, Associate Professor in Public Health, University of Southampton 
 
Well, I absolutely hope so. I mean really getting long covid and doing a lot about it, opened my eyes to the suffering of people with CFS, Fibromyalgia, lots of other chronic conditions. There conditions have been very much unresearched, poorly understood for decades and absolutely we need the research. We hope the research will shed light on this as well.  
 
But also, I think the other thing we need to learn is we need to learn to pay more attention to the less acute effect of everything, I think that’s a lesson to learn from this pandemic. Because, everything in policy has been determined by the deaths, number of cases and hospital admissions and nothing around ‘what are the long-term effects of things?’, and they’ve not be measured. So, I think we need to learn for the future. We need to have the systems to measure it, does not only apply to long covid but other conditions as well.  
 
I think medicine needs to have a bit of humility in terms of we know how to deal with the acute problems and we listen to the more carefully to the acute problems but not so much the chronic problems, so I hope we learn that” 
 
Professor Paul Elliott, Director of the REACT programme, and Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, Imperial College London 
 
If may add Brian, I think the focus we saw on the vaccine which has been a tremendous success  
really accelerating everything by really years. I think we’ve got the same focus on this condition, the funding has gone in, the funders are looking for real answers quickly and usually something like this would take years and years of work and everyone is focussing down on the problem. Both nish and I have brought together large groups of scientists to work on different aspects to try to really understand the mechanisms and I think there is a silver lining perhaps as we will accelerate the findings way beyond, we what we would normally do with a grant in our previous careers as it were. 
 
Brian Cox  
 
“So, this could cross over into chronic conditions, the knowledge that is generated by this focus.” 

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