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Case Western Reserve University receiving $17 million to study long-term effects of COVID-19

The funds will come from the National Institutes of Health, with UH, MetroHealth, and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center also participating.

CLEVELAND — *EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video is from a previous story

What are the long-term effects of COVID-19, and what exactly causes them? One of Northeast Ohio's most prestigious schools is hoping to find out, and they just got a huge boost in their efforts.

Case Western Reserve University has been awarded a federal grant to aid their research into why some people have prolonged symptoms of the coronavirus, otherwise known as "long COVID." The money from the National Institutes of Health will total about $17 million over four years, and University Hospitals, MetroHealth, and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center will also participate.

According to CWRU, the most common lingering symptoms of COVID-19 include pain, headaches, fatigue, "brain fog," shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, fever, chronic cough, and sleep problems. Sometimes these ailments are always present, while other times they return or develop anew following a shorter virus infection.

"How frequent is it? How long does it last? What makes it better?" Dr. Grace McComsey, an infectious diseases specialist and professor of medicine and pediatrics at Case and also the Vice President of Research at UH, said in a statement. "This study will answer a myriad of questions about the post-acute sequalae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (called PASC)."

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As part of the study, the team of school and hospital researchers will administer questionnaires to participants every three to examine their health status, while also asking them to voluntarily give blood and other bodily fluids. Experts hope this will provide answers on what could be indicators of "long-hauler syndrome" as well as give more inside into what the long-term consequences of infection could be.

"If there are 100 million people who have had COVID-19 nationwide, even if 5% get these complications, that’s a huge health care crisis," McComsey explained. "These people had very active lives before COVID and some of them are now disabled, living with many symptoms and a fear of getting worse."

This isn't the first time Case Western has received a federal grant related to the COVID pandemic. Last month, the NIH awarded both the university and UH a portion of an $18 million gift to help study health disparities within the African American community, problems exacerbated by the recent health crisis.

"We will reach out to community partners, all over the region, urban and rural, to recruit survivors, especially in the Latinx and African American communities that have been so heavily and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19," McComsey said.