The latest findings of the PHOSP-COVID study, which involves several researchers from the University of Oxford including Professor Ling-Pei Ho of the MRC Human Immunology Unit (MRC HIU), have been published on the medRxiv pre-print website.
Researchers from 53 institutions and 83 hospitals across the UK assessed 2,230 adults who had been hospitalised with COVID-19. The researchers found that one year after hospital discharge, fewer than 3 in 10 patients on the study reported they felt fully recovered, largely unchanged from 2.5 in 10 at five months. The most common ongoing symptoms were fatigue, muscle pain, physically slowing down, poor sleep and breathlessness.
Participants felt their health-related quality of life remained substantially worse one year after hospital discharge, compared to pre-COVID. This suggests the physical and mental health impairments reported in the study are unlikely to be pre-existing conditions.
Professor Ling-Pei Ho, a Group Leader at the MRC HIU, MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine said: “PHOSP-COVID research teams have also identified some differences in the blood samples of patients who are still experiencing the long-term physical and cognitive effects of their COVID-19 hospital admission. These might indicate possible underlying mechanisms, and help us identify existing medicines that target these mechanisms to help these patients.
“Oxford has been a key contributor to this research, and it has been a massive team effort from the Long COVID clinic, BRC Integrative Respiratory Physiology Clinic, Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit, and research laboratories in Human Immunology Unit and Respiratory. Every patient who gave their time has contributed to this huge landmark study, which will continue to inform how we treat and support our post-COVID patients going forward.”
The PHOSP-COVID study, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), has 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, making it one of the largest comprehensive studies in the world to understand and improve the health of survivors after hospitalisation from COVID-19. As well as the NIHR, the PHOSP-COVID study is funded by the MRC-UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).