Tackling the long-term health effects of coronavirus will be the focus of a new University of the West of Scotland (UWS) research project.

The project, which is funded by the Chief Scientist Office, will involve tracking and identifying trends in persistent symptoms following a coronavirus infection, in order to identify the scale of the issue in Scotland.

The University’s Schools of Health and Life Sciences, and Education and Social Sciences, will work together on the two-year project, which will also help assess who is most at risk of experiencing ‘Long Covid’, as well as building a better understanding of common symptoms and informing early preventative treatments.

For many, it is not the case that – following recovering from a coronavirus infection – they later return to full health. More and more people are experiencing what is called ‘Long Covid’, with individuals facing persistent, debilitating symptoms – even if their initial symptoms were relatively mild – including ‘brain fog’, respiratory issues and mobility difficulties.

Project lead, Professor Nicholas Sculthorpe, from the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS

The project will involve three phases: the first is a rapid scoping review amongst those who have been identified as having Long Covid, to understand the different symptoms associated with it. This will then go on to help build the second stage, which involves the development of a website and app, which asks those who have had Covid to document their experiences and symptoms. The third will involve academics at UWS working with people who have just tested positive for Covid-19 on a one-to-one basis, to track their journey.

Professor Sculthorpe added: “We know that people respond very differently if they become infected with Covid-19. Some people need to be admitted to hospital, while others have no symptoms at all. In order to help Scottish patients recovering from Covid-19 infection, we must study Long Covid in Scotland.

“Tracking Long Covid in people who didn’t require hospital admission is an ongoing issue because these individuals lack the records that hospital patients will have. The project aims to address this and also help identify trends, such as the most common symptoms, who is most at risk and potentially helping to inform early preventative treatment, such as physical therapy or counselling.”