Children’s Hospital Los Angeles received an $8.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection in children and young adults, in hopes of identifying the best ways of treating the virus in younger patients, the hospital announced Wednesday.
“We estimate that 5 to 15% of youth infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop long COVID. Given the population of Los Angeles, that is a lot of young people who will be affected,” Dr. David Warburton, principal investigator at CHLA, said in a statement. “With this study, our objective is to learn more about the progression of this condition, how to treat it and most importantly, how to prevent it.”
More than 30 institutions nationwide will join CHLA in the sweeping study dubbed RECOVER, or Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery, and focused on the after-effects of COVID infections. The overall study will examine patients of all ages, including pregnant women, but CHLA is one of several pediatric hospitals that will study a combined 20,000 children and young adults under 25.
The pediatric study subjects will include people with long-term effects of COVID, those who recovered fully from their infections and those who never got COVID.
According to hospital officials, long-term effects of COVID can include headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, changes in heart rate and sleep disorders. Patients in the study will receive regular screenings of the heart, lung, liver and kidneys over the course of four years, with some participants undergoing more extensive testing.
The nationwide study will also include 800 pediatric COVID patients who developed the virus-related condition Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, and 200 with COVID vaccine-associated myocarditis.
CHLA officials noted that long COVID can often go undiagnosed since its symptoms are similar to other maladies.
“Our goal is to identify children and young adults who may have this condition and help them toward recovery,” Dr. John Wood, pediatric cardiologist at CHLA and co-principal investigator on the study, said. “If your child or a child you know is still experiencing symptoms that interfere with daily life, talk to your pediatrician about being evaluated for long-term effects of COVID and consider participating in this study.”