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Study Seeks UT Volunteers to Unravel Mysteries of 'Long COVID'

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022   

The National Institutes of Health has begun a nationwide research project to better understand how to prevent and treat what's become known as "long" COVID, as well as determine who's at risk.

The COVID-19 virus has affected millions of Americans, but most people have recuperated from the illness - at least initially. However, doctors say thousands who thought they were done later develop "long" COVID, weeks and even months after the initial symptoms are gone. "Long-haulers," as they're called, often experience heart and lung problems, fatigue and cognitive issues such as "brain fog," according to NIH neurologist Dr. Walter Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and a co-director of the study.

"We really don't understand why that is occurring," he said. "So the RECOVER initiative - Research COVID to Enhance Recovery - is trying to understand why this is happening and with that understanding to develop treatments that can help these folks."

The University of Utah is one of more than 80 sites in 30 states that are part of the study. People of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages and locations are needed. To volunteer, look online at RecoverCOVID.org.

One of the study's primary goals, Koroshetz said, is to understand why some some people get long-haul symptoms and others do not.

"The most important group is people who are acutely infected by a very recent infection," he said. "We want to study how people recover after COVID so we can compare the recovery process and people who do a good job recovering, versus those who do a poor job and end up with persistent symptoms."

Koroshetz said researchers know the importance of getting a wide variety of people to share their experiences.

"The real heroes are the subjects who enroll in this study," he said. "The people who are having trouble enroll, I think, because they want to understand what's wrong with them and they want to contribute to the knowledge. We also need people who do it for purely altruistic reasons, the people who are not having trouble."

He said volunteers can expect a phone call from a study representative to gather basic demographic information, ask about your experience with COVID-19 and why you want to be part of the study.


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