Case study

University leads first trial in anti-viral medicines for long Covid

Our researchers are leading a ground-breaking study that could help people living with long Covid.

Potential impacts of anti-virals

The team, led by Dr Mark Faghy, is working with experts from the University of Exeter to investigate whether an anti-viral medication that is commonly used to treat people with acute Covid-19 could be effective in treating symptoms of long Covid.

Long Covid remains a significant health and societal challenge. Current estimates show that approximately 1.9 million people in the UK (2.9% of the population) have the condition - almost a quarter of whom have had their symptoms for more than two years. Globally, estimates suggest that over 144 million developed long Covid, with 22 million experiencing persistent symptoms at 12 months after the onset of their infection. People affected may experience symptoms such as extreme fatigue and breathlessness, palpitations, or brain fog. In many cases these symptoms are debilitating, interfering with work, family life and socialising. The search for potential treatments is therefore of paramount importance as it may help in reducing the number of people impacted by this condition, improving outcomes and quality of life.

Mark Faghy smiling
Professor in Clinical Exercise Science

Mark is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology in the School of Human Sciences and an active researcher in the Human Science Research Centre.

The testing process

The cause of long Covid is not yet clear; however, a widely recognised theory is that the virus persists within specific cells of the infected person, causing an associated inflammatory response, and a wide range of prolonged symptoms. This study, supported by funding from Gilead Sciences, Inc., will allow the team to assess whether antiviral medicines have the potential to be an effective treatment option for patients once diagnosed with long Covid. Eligible patients will undergo a series of tests before and after being given the medication to monitor any improvements in long-standing issues they are experiencing.

Dr Faghy’s team have led previous international studies to explore the impacts of acute and long Covid, recording patients’ symptoms and their lived experience.

From January 2024, eligible people will be invited to come forward to be screened to take part in the study. This first phase of research will look at a series of measures, including symptom profiling and monitoring and exercise tolerability.

To find out more about the project contact Dr Mark Faghy.

a mother holds a happy child above her head

Human Sciences Research Centre

Our Human Sciences Research Centre conducts theoretical and applied research into the prevention and treatment of diseases and into improvements to the quality of life for people of all ages.

Find out more about our Human Sciences Research CentreFind out more about our Human Sciences Research Centre