As a respiratory disease, COVID-19 infection mainly affects the lungs. While most people recover completely, a significant number of individuals experience symptoms that can persist for weeks or months post COVID infection, sometimes referred to as ‘long-COVID’. It remains unclear whether these symptoms are associated with any long-term damage that reduces the function of the lungs and respiratory system.
To investigate this, a study led by the University of Oxford’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics with researchers from the Nuffield Department of Medicine and the Department of Chemistry used a novel computational approach to assess how COVID-19 may affect long-term lung function.
The study was based on 178 participants who were grouped into four categories:
- Control participants, who had not had COVID-19;
- Those who had COVID-19 and were managed in the community;
- Those who were hospitalised with COVID-19 but not admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU);
- Those who were admitted to an ICU with severe COVID-19 and in most cases received invasive mechanical ventilation.
The participants were studied six months and twelve months after COVID-19 infection, using a novel computational approach to assess lung function.