Study seeking to find first medication for Long COVID welcomes first participant

Participant in the study, Clare Elliott, right, being interviewed by BBC East Midlands Today.

Researchers in Leicester have welcomed the first patient living with inflammatory Long COVID onto a study testing the effectiveness of tocilizumab at relieving their symptoms.

The new trial follows the work of PHOSP-COVID, a national consortium led by experts funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Leicester Biomedical Research Centre investigating the long terms impacts of COVID-19 on health outcomes.

Patients at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and 14 other UK sites will be part of the study investigating tocilizumab versus a placebo.

Dr Rachael Evans, Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and an Associate Professor at the University of Leicester, said: “Long COVID is thought to affect around two million people in the UK. There are no specific medications for Long COVID currently, and it’s an international priority to find effective treatments.

“We have previously shown a link between the severity of ongoing health impairments and inflammation. We believe that tocilizumab, which is already used to treat patients with acute COVID-19, may be effective in treating patients with Long COVID by reducing inflammation.

“So in this study we aim to see whether the medicine helps patients feel better in themselves by improving their symptoms, compared to a placebo.”

A participant on the study, aged 26, said: “My hope is that this study will find a drug to help people like me who’ve had their lives turned upside down by Long-COVID. Even if this study doesn’t help me, it could help someone else and that’s really important.”

For more information on the study, and to discover more about the previous findings of the PHOSP COVID, please visit the study’s dedicated website

The NIHR Leicester BRC is part of the NIHR and hosted by the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust in partnership with the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group.