Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek explains:
“The pandemic is not over yet. The figures and statistics we receive daily from the Robert Koch Institute show that the disease continues to spread, especially in the younger age groups. I am particularly worried about the late effects of an illness. Many COVID-19 patients still suffer from symptoms weeks or months later - regardless of the severity of the course of the disease. Being able to provide these people with the best possible care remains a challenge for doctors and, in particular, for science. We urgently need well-founded insights into how people can be helped in the best possible way. I am therefore very pleased that ten research projects can now be launched that examine the topic of long-COVID from different perspectives. Some of these projects analyze the molecular changes that cause the observed symptoms in order to find starting points for effective therapies. Promising treatment approaches are already being tested in other projects, such as drug therapies, occupational therapy or an individually tailored exercise program. Still other projects aim to more precisely characterize the specific care needs of certain patient groups – be it children and young people, in the psychosocial area or in rehabilitation – and thus to be able to tailor future offers even better. One thing is certain: there is still a lack of reliable knowledge about the frequency, duration and therapy of long-COVID. It is therefore important that we provide targeted support for health research in Germany in this area. The funding measure initiated by my company is another important building block in this regard. And I can promise one thing: If research needs to be continued after the end of the projects, the BMBF will keep an eye on it.”
There is still no clear, general definition that describes long-COVID or the post-COVID syndrome. It is estimated that around 10 percent of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience long-term symptoms that can last for several weeks or months (“long-Covid” or “post-Covid syndrome”). The most common late symptoms include extreme exhaustion (fatigue), headaches, lack of concentration, shortness of breath and loss of smell and taste.
Gaining reliable knowledge about these late symptoms is the subject of the "Guideline for the Funding of Research Projects on Late Symptoms of Covid-31 (Long-Covid)" published on May 19st.
The funding guidelines are primarily aimed at interdisciplinary research groups that already have access to patients, data and samples. Of particular importance are research projects on outpatient care, rehabilitation and care and on cooperation between specialized long-Covid outpatient clinics and primary care.
The projects that have now been selected will be funded for a period of usually up to two years. Originally, a funding amount of 5 million euros was planned; this sum was increased to 6,5 million euros.
Brief information on the funded projects
Source: Press release from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research from March 23.09.2021, XNUMX