Professor Jo Porter, our Medical Director, has had an article published in the Respiratory Health Supplement in The Guardian today (22.6.21), explaining research into the impact of COVID-19 on lung fibrosis
This is what Prof Porter had to say:
A study is underway to assess the impact of COVID-19 on lung fibrosis development. Interstitial lung disease (ILD), or lung fibrosis, diagnosed by CT scan, causes difficulty breathing by affecting the delicate membrane separating the blood and air in the lungs. Joanna Porter, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at University College London, says there are more than 200 causes of ILD, including asbestos, mould, feathers, underlying conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and infection. COVID-19 infection may be the latest contributor to ILD development.
COVID-19 impact – Dividing her research role with clinical work as head of the national NHS centre for ILD at University College London Hospitals, Professor Porter says there are an estimated 16,000 new ILD cases per year but this could be an underestimate as some people may not know they have the disease. Specialists agree that current evidence is limited, however there is concern regarding the impact of COVID-19 on ILD and lung fibrosis patients. What is known is that patients with the most severe form of ILD – idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – do less well if they catch the virus. The UK ILD Post-COVID Study is now following up hospitalised and non-hospitalised post-COVID patients to see how many develop a new ILD as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This UKRI funded multicentre study will look at patients in the PHOSP study who had a CT scan three months after their initial infection and compare that with their 12-month follow-up scan to identify ongoing and resolved issues. Although we do not know the final figures, unpublished preliminary data from UCLH suggest around 4% of patients may be affected.
Professor Porter is also Medical Director of Breathing Matters, a UCLH charity, dedicated to finding a cure for all forms of ILD/pulmonary fibrosis. She points out that anything we learn from post-COVID ILD will almost certainly help other patients with lung fibrosis. Breathing Matters has continued vital research throughout the pandemic to address these critical questions.
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