There are new scientific insights into long Covid – but political will is waning. For many people, Covid is not a thing of the past. A renewed effort is needed to find out exactly what it is, and how to treat it.
Opinion Piece By Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology at Imperial College London
The inquiry is a reminder that even as public (and policy) attention span for all things Covid has inevitably waned, it is worth looking at the state of play for the many millions of patients, advocates and researchers around the world still very much grappling with Long Covid.
For researchers working in the many medical areas that appear to be affected by Long Covid – such as blood coagulation, autoimmune disease, viral persistence, organ damage, or any number of others – the big picture remains challenging. How can these areas be pulled together in such a way as to make a real clinical difference?
A new study published in Cell gives us a sense of the problem, as it reports intriguing new information about how long Covid may work, but also complicates our overall understanding.
In terms of Long Covid clinics, sufferers elsewhere look at the UK with some envy in terms of an agreed and costed masterplan for ongoing national provision. However, services are uneven across the country, and many long Covid sufferers express their frustration at what they perceive as the lack of a substantive care pathway or therapeutic options to get them back up to speed.
The comprehensive package of research programmes put into place by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) in July 2021 will soon come to a hard stop. They have offered many important insights for future directions, but unsurprisingly – given how long medical research takes to deliver – no substantive answers that have yet cured anybody.
Dr Charles Shepherd, Honorary Medical Adviser to the ME Association:
This is a very realistic review from Professor Danny Altmann on where we currently are with research into and management of Long Covid
As Danny correctly points out there haven't been any major breakthroughs in the treatment of Long Covid and one of the significant problems here is that there are a wide range of clinical presentations and causal pathways that come under the Long Covid umbrella.
Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association.