The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded almost $470 million to New York University (NYU) Langone Health to build a national study population of tens of thousands of people to research the long-term effects of COVID-19, officials announced Wednesday.
Officials aim to enroll between 30,000 to 40,000 participants as part of a combined population of new and existing study groups, in a meta-cohort called Recover, to investigate the mystery surrounding long COVID-19.
The NIH's goal represents a “substantial” boost in participants from typical cohort studies with an “ambitious” enrollment timeline of 12 to 18 months, officials said.
“Normally it would take two or three or four years to set up something like this, given the scale,” NIH Director Francis Collins said during a briefing. “But given the urgency, we have moved to put this together considerably faster but without sacrificing rigor.”
Cases and stories of long COVID-19 have emerged throughout the pandemic with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that 10 to 30 percent of people infected with the virus experience symptoms lasting at least one month. With more than 41 million confirmed cases in the U.S., the estimate suggests millions could be affected by long COVID-19.
Congress had allocated $1.15 billion for NIH scientists to study long COVID-19 and try to answer questions about the cause and treatments for the continuing symptoms.
With the national meta-cohort sample, the researchers hope to develop a diverse population for a “harmonized study of truly national scale,” said Amy Patterson, the deputy director of clinical research and strategic initiatives at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
“This is really the only way that we're going to have truly meaningful results for patients with regard to this broad and complex set of symptoms,” she said. “And importantly together, we will have created a national harmonized data and specimen resource that can be utilized by researchers worldwide to rapidly better understand, treat and prevent” long COVID-19.
The studies will involve adult, pregnant and pediatric patients and include data on clinical information, laboratory tests and analyses of these patients “in various stages of recovery” after COVID-19 infection.