The Canadian Respiratory Research Network Long COVID‑19 Study
The New York Times suggested that lingering symptoms from COVID‑19 may turn out to be one of the largest mass disabling events in modern history. There are almost a million Canadians infected with COVID‑19 at the time of writing. Even a small amount of lung disease could have enormous health and economic consequences. Preliminary studies suggest that COVID‑19 causes long-term lung damage, even in young, otherwise healthy people who did not need to go to hospital or the ICU. In recent months, new COVID‑19 variants – of which little is known – have become more common and it is not known how they will affect the long-term health of people’s lungs. We are a group of respiratory researchers, patients, health care workers, non-profit groups and others who want to know how common long-term lung damage after COVID‑19 is, who is most affected by it and what the effects of this damage are on other important aspects of people’s lives. We plan to study a large sample of people with COVID‑19 from across Canada-some who needed hospitalization but most who did not. Through telephone questionnaires, we will determine their respiratory symptoms, quality of life and medical history. Then we will invite them to one of our eight Canadian testing centres to have special, thorough breathing tests. The information we learn about the effect of COVID‑19 on the lungs will help patients and health care providers manage it better. It will also reveal how different COVID‑19 variants affect the lungs. We will use this new knowledge to write a formal guide on what respiratory monitoring and testing should be done after COVID‑19 infection. This will ensure that people affected by COVID‑19 get the care they need to maintain their lung health. This will also help prevent unnecessary testing which places extra strain on the health care system and delay care for other patients.