The Danish Health Authority estimates that 10% of the people who get COVID-19 experience long-term symptoms or consequences after the initial disease trajectory.
Several reports indicate that COVID-19 is not just an acute respiratory disease but may cause long-term disease or discomfort by affecting the body’s organ systems. COVID-19 seems to cause persistent symptoms even among people with milder forms, and knowledge is limited on the number of people who have long-term symptoms or consequences and how to best treat these people.
To create new knowledge about this area, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a total of DKK 39.2 million for six research projects that will investigate the nature, incidence and distribution of long-term symptoms among people who have had COVID-19. In some cases, the results could pave the way for new forms of treatment for long COVID-19.
“The six projects cover several target groups and investigative approaches related to the health consequences of COVID-19. I anticipate that these projects, both individually and collectively, can provide valuable knowledge on the health consequences of COVID-19 and the optimal potential treatment options,” says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Senior Vice President, Biomedicine & Health Sciences, Novo Nordisk Foundation.
Different approaches to investigating the health consequences of COVID-19
The six projects examine different groups of people who have had COVID-19 across both scientific and national frontiers to discover new knowledge about what triggers long-term symptoms of COVID-19 and how to optimally treat the people who have it.
For example, one project focuses on examining the scale of the cognitive, neurological and mental health burden of COVID-19 at both the individual and societal levels. The purpose is to understand and combat how COVID-19 has affected the brain.
Another project involving more than 10,000 people across Europe will investigate persistent pain among people who have had COVID-19.
A third project will provide knowledge that can be used to design effective interventions to combat the long-term consequences of COVID-19, targeting people with migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds.
The grants are being awarded through the stand-alone programme Research into Long-term Health Consequences of COVID-19 Illness. The duration of the projects will be 3–4 years.
The six grant recipients
Daniel Kondziella, Clinical Research Associate Professor, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen
Project title: Cognitive, Neurological and Mental Health Burden 6 Months to 3 Years after COVID-19
Grant amount: DKK 7,343,168
Tine Jess, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Aalborg University, Copenhagen
Project title: The Long-term Consequences of COVID-19 in Patients with Immune-mediated Inflammatory Diseases: Nationwide Danish Cohort Studies
Grant amount: DKK 3,234,000
Lars Østergaard, Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University
Project title: Multidisciplinary Systematic Investigation and Experimental Treatment of Long-term COVID-19 Illness
Grant amount: DKK 9,999,203
Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Professor, Center for Neuroplasticity and Pain and Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Aalborg University
Project title: Incidence and Characterisation of Persistent Pain in COVID-19 Survivors: a Pan-European Concerted Action
Grant amount: DKK 8,032,543
Marie Nørredam, Professor, Danish Research Centre for Migration, Ethnicity and Health, University of Copenhagen
Project title: Long-term Health Consequences of COVID-19 Illness Among Patients with Migrant and Ethnic Minority Background
Grant amount: DKK 5,275,000
Tor Biering-Sørensen, Associate Professor, Department of Cardiology, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital
Project title: The ECHOVID-19 Long-term Study
Grant amount: DKK 5,310,000
About the Novo Nordisk Foundation
The Novo Nordisk Foundation is an independent Danish foundation with corporate interests. It has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social causes.
The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the lives of people and the sustainability of society. Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 30 billion (€4 billion), primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries as well as research-based treatment and prevention of diabetes. Read more at www.novonordiskfonden.dk/en.
Sabina Askholm Larsen, Communications Partner, +45 2367 3226, [email protected]