By Greg Basky for the 2021-22 SHRF Annual Report (read the full Annual Report here)
Modelling done by the Saskatchewan Health Authority suggests that as many as 80,000 people in this province could be affected by Long COVID. Among a cohort of Saskatchewan people who still have symptoms six months after the acute phase of the infection, two thirds are experiencing shortness of breath.
For many of them, this is affecting their ability to return to work or carry out their normal, day-to-day activities. Little is known about the trajectory of this symptom – Do people eventually get better? Do they fully recover? How soon? And what are all of the different impacts the condition is having on their lives?
"By uncovering how people are feeling and dealing with shortness of breath, we’re hoping to shed some light on ways to treat it,” says Dr. Alyson Kelvin (PhD) a scientist at Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) and co-principal investigator on the SHRF and Lung Saskatchewan funded project. “You don't know how to treat something if you don't know what it looks like or what the possible causes could be.”
The team will use a mobile app to collect information about how shortness of breath is affecting people’s health-related quality of life and what therapies they are receiving. They will also be testing and tracking people’s lung function, exercise capacity and muscle strength to develop a clearer picture of what it’s like living with shortness of breath. And they’ll look at the immune response, to determine if people experiencing this longer term symptom properly developed antibodies to the virus.
“As with all epidemics, we forget about the disability that’s left behind,” says Dr. Donna Goodridge (PhD), who is principal investigator on the Long COVID project, and a professor in the College of Medicine’s Division of Respirology, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine. “Our intent is to contribute evidence that can help us plan for how to support people with shortness of breath as we move forward.”
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Chelsea Cunningham, SHRF Programs and Engagement Manager