Brown School of Public Health launches effort to study impacts of ‘long COVID’



Coronavirus

“Long COVID will have a profound impact on our society for years, if not for generations.”

A nurse holds the hand of a COVID-19 patient in an ICU. The Associated Press

The Brown School of Public Health is launching a new effort to study the impacts of “long COVID” on people, communities, workplaces, health care, and society more broadly. 

The initiative will be led by Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the school, and Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and an associate dean for strategy and innovation at the school, according to the Brown.

“The pandemic’s devastating death toll has meant that we have at times been slow to acknowledge the growing number of people living with continued complications from COVID-19,” Jha said in a statement. “Every third COVID-19 patient still experiences at least one symptom weeks or months after becoming infected. For some people, long COVID is so disruptive they can no longer work or manage family responsibilities. We urgently need a better understanding of how long COVID affects people and systems, so our programs and policies can meet this new reality.”

The study will bring together researchers, clinicians, and policy experts to quickly examine how long COVID impacts people, economies, and societies and then provide recommendations for how to assist those with the condition.

According to Brown, the Long COVID initiative will apply an “equity lens” to all aspects of the project’s work, given the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of color. 

“Long COVID, too, may be affecting Black and brown Americans more than whites,” the school said in a statement. “The project will specifically call out where data and information on any minorities is missing, and collaborate to generate and synthesize such evidence on how long COVID affects all populations.”

The Hassenfeld Foundation is providing funding for the first year of the project, which will have a web and social media presence to share news and the latest evidence compiled by the initiative to engage in conversations for learning more about long COVID.

In a statement, Ranney said she sees long COVID patients frequently during her work in the emergency room, but her patients often don’t know to call their condition by that term.

“The lasting effects of this disease can be life altering,” she said. “Long COVID will have a profound impact on our society for years, if not for generations. By investing in closing knowledge gaps, adapting clinical approaches and workplace policies, and improving attention to equity, we can improve our collective ability to more effectively manage the long-term effects of the pandemic.”