As countries around the world struggle to cope and recover from successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, a major new research consortium will inform medium- and longer-term policy and health system responses.
The consortium is made up of more than 30 researchers, health professionals, patients and industry partners from over 30 organisations working together under the banner of STIMULATE-ICP (Symptoms, Trajectory, Inequalities and Management: Understanding Long-COVID to Address and Transform Existing Integrated Care Pathways).
The overall programme aims to work out what long COVID is, how to diagnose it and how to manage it. The team will interview patients and health professionals and analyse data from NHS records,to inform understanding of patterns of long COVID and the outcomes of current clinical practice. Researchers will work alongside patients to improve access to care and support, and to address care inequalities.
The team is recruiting 4,500 patients in the largest long-COVID trial to-date in order to compare a new pathway including community-based, comprehensive MRI scan (CoverscanTM) and enhanced rehabilitation (Living with COVID RecoveryTM) with usual care. The effect of drugs on patient outcomes after three months of treatment is also being trialled. The drugs being tested are: Famotidine and Loratidine (antihistamines) in combination, Rivaroxaban (an anti-clotting drug) and Colchicine (an anti-inflammatory drug). With patients the team will co-develop means to improve patient access to the right care at the right time in the right place, including health professional training. The aspects of long COVID care which might improve care for patients with multimorbidity and long-term condition will also be considered.
It is hoped that the programme will deliver knowledge to clinicians and scientists, evidence to policymakers and improved care to patients, while collecting real-world data at scale.
Find out more about the STIMULATE-ICP project and how to get involved.