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 will run trials with over 4,500 people with long-COVID. Individuals will be randomly assigned to usual care or a new pathway, which includes enhanced rehabilitation using the ‘Living with COVID Recovery’ digital platform. Another trial will test the effect of drugs, such as aspirin and colchicine, on patient outcomes after three months treatment.
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.