A major UK research study – PHOSP-COVID, will investigate the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients. The new study has been awarded £8.4 million jointly by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The PHOSP-COVID study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care. Around 10,000 patients are expected to take part in the study led by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), making it one of the largest comprehensive studies in the world to understand and improve the health of survivors after hospitalisation from COVID-19.
Oxford investigators have been at the forefront in leading this study with the Leicester investigators, providing expertise in multi-organ imaging, mental health and lung disease. The study involves an important collaboration between the two Trusts (Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust), the two NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (Oxford BRC and Oxford Health BRC), and the University of Oxford.
Professor Ling-Pei Ho (Oxford BRC Respiratory theme researcher), Professor John Geddes (Director of the NIHR Oxford Health BRC) and Professor Stefan Neubauer (Oxford BRC Theme Lead for Imaging) are part of the national consortium group of leading researchers and clinicians from across the UK to assess the impact of COVID-19 on patients’ health and their recovery. More than 50 consultants and researchers will work together in Oxford to provide for the clinical care and research into the post COVID-19 sequelae and contribute to the better health of the nation, applying world-class science.
Professor John Geddes, lead for the mental health component of the study, said, “We know that mental health and neurological problems are quite common after viral infections and so it is very important that these are being assessed alongside other health outcomes. We will then be able to develop and test new ways of preventing and treating these problems to make sure that people recover as quickly as possible. We are very grateful for a generous gift from the Duke of Westminster which has enabled us to start the research very quickly.”
Professor Helen McShane, Director of the NIHR Oxford BRC, said, “I am delighted that the two Oxford Biomedical Research Centres are working hand in hand on this important study, to investigate the multi-organ and mental health sequelae of infection with COVID-19, utilising our expertise in multi-modal imaging. We look forward to working with colleagues in Leicester, London and around the country on this very timely study.”
Professor Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said, “The results of this research will be crucial for our understanding of the longer term effects of COVID-19. I am really pleased that our patients will be able to benefit from this research which is made possible by the close working of the NHS and the University of Oxford through the BRC.”
Professor Ling-Pei Ho, Chair, NIHR Respiratory Translational Research Collaboration, said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to work together across the country to integrate clinical care and scientific research; and also with the extensive expertise in the Oxford BRC. Oxford will apply its world-class science to a huge clinical need and translate this to greater mechanistic understanding of disease.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 have varied among those who have tested positive: some have displayed no symptoms, while others have developed severe pneumonia and sadly even lost their lives. For those who were hospitalised and have since been discharged, it is not yet clear what the medical, psychological and rehabilitation needs for this group of patients will be to enable them to make as full a recovery as possible.
Patients on the study will be assessed using techniques such as advanced imaging, data collection and analysis of blood and lung samples, creating a comprehensive picture of the impact COVID-19 has had on longer term health outcomes across the UK.
The PHOSP-COVID team will then develop trials of new strategies for clinical care, including personalised treatments for groups of patients based on the particular disease characteristics they show as a result of having COVID-19 to improve their long term health.
This study is widely supported across the NIHR infrastructure, including the Translational Research Collaborations for respiratory, mental health, cardiovascular, dementia, and diet, exercise and nutrition, and many of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, which are set up to translate lab-based scientific breakthroughs into potential new treatments, diagnostics and medical technologies.