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First patient joins UK’s largest study into long terms effects of COVID-19


A patient from Leicester has become the first person in the UK to enter a study investigating the long terms effects of COVID-19.

Piyush Madhani was asked to take part in the research at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) based at Glenfield Hospital on Monday 10 August 2020. Ten thousand people are expected to enrol across 57 hospitals in the UK in the coming weeks and months.

The PHOSP-COVID study is one of the world’s largest comprehensive studies into the long term effects of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients. In July it was awarded £8.4million jointly by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). This study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been given urgent public health research status by the Department of Health and Social Care.

Piyush Madhani, an IT consultant who is married with two daughters, first developed COVID symptoms in mid-March. By day nine he was struggling to breathe, so paramedics took him to Glenfield Hospital, where it was confirmed that he also had pneumonia. 

He said: “I was in constant pain and could barely speak. All I could think of was recovering and having that chance to see my family again. The hospital staff took good care of me and made sure I made it back home alive.

Mr Madhani was discharged after 12 days on a COVID ward. He added: “After coming home, the first month of recovery was still painful. The coughs were still brutal and caused great discomfort. Twice the pain was so severe that I was close to passing out. The nights were equally bad where I could hardly manage a couple of hours’ sleep due to coughing.”

Piyush is keen to help others who have been through a similar experience. He explained: “Ever since I came back home and recovered, I wanted to help out in any way possible. Since I had been through the stressful and painful experience myself, I could understand the pain other affected people were going through. There have been many casualties, young and old and all in between, but that should not continue. 

“It is a bit of a strange feeling to be the first person to be part of this research, but it is exciting as well. I hope I will in some way be able to contribute to the understanding and cure of this virus as well as what impact it has on those infected.”

Participants on the study, like Mr Madhani, will be assessed in a variety of ways for example using questionnaires, tests of physical function, techniques such as advanced imaging, and analysis of blood samples creating a comprehensive picture of the impact COVID-19 has on longer-term health outcomes.

Dr Rachael Evans, who is an NIHR Clinical Scientist at the University of Leicester and an Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician at Leicester’s Hospitals, is a co-investigator of the study. She said: 

“While we now have a good picture of the initial effects of coronavirus, we still have much to learn about the long term effects of COVID-19. For some of the patients in my clinic, recovery happened very quickly, yet others are having prolonged symptoms for months afterwards. We want to understand why that is the case so that we can do something to help.

We’re taking a holistic approach. Rather than just focusing on the lungs, we’ll be looking at all aspect of the mind and body, including mental health, physical function, lifestyle, and other organs such as the heart, kidneys and brain for example. We’ll also look at the treatments the patients received in hospital to see what the long terms impacts of their care pathways might be. We’re leaving no stone unturned.”

By collecting and analysing information about patients who have had the virus, the PHOSP-COVID team can then develop trials of new strategies for clinical care. This could include personalised treatments for groups of patients based on the particular disease characteristics they show as a result of having COVID-19. 

For more information about the study visit www.phosp.org


Rachael Dowling, head of research communications

rachael.dowling@uhl-tr.nhs.uk / 07950891193