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A team of NDORMS researchers including Doctor Annika Jödicke and Doctor Victoria Strauss have been awarded NIHR funding to carry out a study into the effects of different COVID-19 vaccines on long COVID.

Annika Jodicke and Victoria Strauss

While many people fully recover after having COVID-19, there are a large proportion who continue to suffer from long-term complications and effects, such as persistent tiredness, chronic pain or breathing difficulties. The vaccines that are currently being delivered are preventing severe infections leading to hospitalisations, but it is not yet known if they also prevent long-term COVID effects. 

The study will look at whether a COVID vaccination can prevent long COVID by comparing the risk for long COVID in adults who have received a first dose of a COVID vaccines to unvaccinated adults. The study will also look at the different COVID vaccines and compare them to see how effective they are at preventing long COVID.  

On receiving the funding, Annika said “Especially for healthy, young people with a low risk for severe COVID-19 disease, potential long COVID complications remain a major concern. We need to understand the impact vaccination has on preventing long COVID. This is an important aspect also to be considered in future risk-benefit evaluations for COVID vaccines.” 

Victoria added “While COVID vaccine can provide excellent protection against severe diseases, we do not know to what extent vaccine is effective against long COVID nor which vaccine brand provides better protection against long COVID.  This new funded project can provide new evidence on these important gaps. We hope it would provide public more complete pictures on risks and benefit on COVID vaccine.”

Two other research projects within the Medical Sciences Division have been awarded funding. Professor Fergus Gleeson will extend his research into long-term lung damage using hyperpolarised xenon MRIO scans to non-hospitalised patients, and Professor Sue Ziebland will be looking at understanding and using family experiences of managing long COVID to support self-care and timely access to services.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Long COVID can have serious and debilitating long term effects for thousands of people across the UK, which can make daily life extremely challenging.

“This new research is absolutely essential to improve diagnosis and treatments and will be life-changing for those who are battling long-term symptoms of the virus.

“It will build on our existing support with over 80 long COVID assessment services open across England as part of a £100 million expansion of care for those suffering from the condition and over £50 million invested in research to better understand the lasting effects of this condition.”