Derby academic delivers call for long Covid research funding to 10 Downing Street

7 December 2023

A University of Derby academic was among a group of selected guests who visited 10 Downing Street yesterday (Wednesday 6 December) to hand in a letter calling for government funding for research into long Covid.

Dr Mark Faghy, Associate Professor in Respiratory Physiology at the University of Derby, delivered the letter along with leaders from the national long Covid charities. Dr Faghy joined Sammie McFarland, founder and CEO of Long Covid Kids, Ondine Sherwood, CEO of Long Covid SOS, Jo Dainrow of Long Covid Support, as well as Oonagh Cousins, a former GB rower who has retired due to long Covid.

A person holding a letter outside 10 Downing Street

Dr Faghy has been leading international studies to explore the impacts of acute Covid-19 and long Covid and is working with medical and research partners on a ground-breaking trial to explore whether an anti-viral medication used to treat acute Covid patients could also be used to manage the symptoms of people with long Covid.

He has also been attending the Covid inquiry as a Core Participant; he has co-authored multiple witness statements and evidence submissions that incorporate his research and will be used to inform the outcomes of the inquiry, which hopes to increase preparedness for future pandemics.

He explained:

“The government announced an initial £50 million of funding for research into long Covid, but more is needed. Some estimates suggest there could be at least 200 million cases across the world in 10 years’ time, so this isn’t going away.

“Long Covid blights people’s lives, with symptoms including extreme fatigue and breathlessness, palpitations and brain fog. Many are unable to continue with their activities, look after their families, or go to work. Funding is needed to make sure we increase the mechanistic understanding of long Covid, which will help in the development of treatments and support services for millions in the UK and worldwide.”

Sammie McFarland said:

“As the mother of a child living with the condition since 2020, I urgently draw attention to the stark realities faced by our youngest generation grappling with long Covid. 1.9 million people with long Covid are considered a minority group, and within that, the 62,000 children with long Covid represent a particularly vulnerable subset. New data evidences that 40% of children aren’t improving.

“These statistics underscore a life-changing impact on these young lives, yet the government remains silent on the issue. Reduced school attendance, diminished opportunities, increased disability, and heightened health needs are the everyday reality for these children. Our children, and future workforce, deserve the best possible health and learning outcomes, necessitating urgent research and treatment trials.”

Find out more about the University of Derby’s research into long Covid.

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