MHH researches late complications of the Corona infection

The COVID Outpatient Department at Hannover Medical School continues to accompany those affected people who are officially recovered in order to find out more about late complications. Male and female participants are sought for this study led by the DZL researchers Dr. Isabell Pink and Prof. Dr. Marius Hoeper.

Recovered, but not in good health: some people who contracted COVID-19 are still suffering its effects weeks and months after contracting this acute disease. Among the symptoms are fatigue, reduced physical resilience, lack of concentration, respiratory problems and loss of taste or smell. „These late complications are not only found in patients who were badly affected and had to be treated in hospital, but also those who experienced only a medium or mild level of disease“, explained Professor Dr. Marius Hoeper, acting Director of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Hannover Medical School (MHH) and a scientist at BREATH, the Hannover site of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL). Karsten Wiesenberger is one of these patients. He reports on his experiences in the NDR (North German Broadcasting Corporation) broadcast Hallo Niedersachsen (Hello Lower Saxony).

In the Department of Respiratory Medicine, a Outpatient Clinic for Recovered COVID Cases was set up in mid-May where patients could be accompanied after the disease. In order to find out more about the late complications, Professor Hoeper and his team are conducting the study „IRMI 19“ (ImmunpRofile iM Langzeitverlauf nach COVID-19 – Immune profiles in the long term after COVID-19). „Some of those people affected are still not feeling well even after three or four months“, Dr. Isabell Pink, Head of the Outpatient Department explains. For some, because of the complaints, it is difficult to carry on working, even if it is „only“ an office job. Many complained of shortness of breath under stress and a tightening in the chest.  Among them were also patients between 21 and 50, who had been completely healthy prior to infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. „Their situation is improving only at a very slow pace“, says the pulmonologist. Treatment of the late complications with medication is seldom possible. „We can only advise the patients to listen to their body, generally drop down a gear and if necessary apply for outpatient rehabilitation.“

Not a great deal is known yet about the long-term effects of a Coronavirus infection. Research and clinical observations up to now have, however, shown that SARS-CoV-2 can affect practically every organ and cause damage there. „We presume that COVID-19 permanently changes the immune system“, explains Professor Hoeper, who is involved in several Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 research projects at BREATH. The different projects of the research network are targeted on a better understanding of the spread, the infection pathways, diagnostic possibilities and consequences of a COVID-19 infection. An overview of the current research projects can be seen here.  

As part of the IMRI 19 Study, immune profiles should in the long term provide further information. „We assume that there are connections between the immune phenomena observed and the persistent complaints that we would like to understand better, naturally also in the hope that we can treat them in future“, says Professor Hoeper. In order to be able to collect sufficient data, about 100 affected people should take part, who originally only had mild symptoms of COVID-19 and yet suffer from late complications. In the study, patients may also be included who were not treated at the MHH. They may register themselves at the COVID Outpatient Department for Convalescents.

Those interested should contact the COVID Outpatient Department for Convalescents on Tel.: (0511) 532-5030, Fax (0511) 532-18538 or E-Mail: pneumologie.covid@mh-hannover.de

 

Text: MHH

Photo: MHH/ Tom Figiel

Prof. Dr. Marius Hoeper, and Dr. Isabell Pink