An opinion piece published in the Guardian (07/11/23) discusses the current state of long Covid research and care. It notes that while there was initially a lot of momentum and funding, this has now fallen off. Professor Chris Brightling expressed dismay at Boris Johnson’s dismissive “bollocks” comment about long Covid briefing materials. Millions of long Covid patients continue to have their lives severely impacted.
In terms of research, while there have been advances in understanding, scientists realize how little is still known about the heterogenous nature of long Covid. It may eventually be classified into multiple disease entities like type 1 and 2 diabetes. Different specialities are researching different aspects, but integrating these remains challenging. A new gut infection study further complicates the picture.
In the UK, long Covid clinics exist but care remains uneven and many patients are frustrated by the lack of a substantive care pathway. The comprehensive NIHR research programmes will soon end without yet providing curative answers. Many patients are now struggling with medical retirement and part-time work.
n the US, there have been calls for $1 billion annually in long Covid research funding. While unlikely the UK would match this, the UK previously led globally impactful acute Covid trials like Recovery. With 3% of the workforce affected, the UK could rebut the “bollocks” attitude by leading trials to get long Covid patients back to work.
In summary, while long Covid research and care has progressed, momentum and funding are declining even as millions struggle with lasting impacts. More research integration and clinical trials could help long Covid patients regain their lives and boost the economy. Dismissive attitudes should be countered by making long Covid a priority.