Preparations have begun in the Netherlands to launch a major research project to find out if existing medicines can ease the symptoms of Long Covid.
The researchers will look at the impact of a large number of cheap, readily available drugs, such as Metformin, a medicine against diabetes, broadcaster NOS said on Friday.
The drugs will be tested on Dutch, British, Spanish and Italian Long Covid patients and such mass testing will allow the researchers to establish quickly if there is any impact, NOS said.
Up to 100,000 people in the Netherlands are still thought to be suffering from the long-term effects of a coronavirus infection.
“Sometimes you then hear a drug works and that some people partially recover,” said Marc Bonten, professor of infectious diseases at UMC Utrecht. “But scientifically, so far it has not been proven at all to what extent such a drug does or does not work, or whether it is safe. We want to answer those questions with this project.”
The project is one of the initiatives applying for a Dutch health ministry grant for research into Long Covid. The government has set aside €32 million to fund such projects.
The Stichting Long Covid, a patient-based lobby group, has donated €20,000 to the project to kick start the research and an additional €30,000 has come from two donors, the foundation said.
Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalised with Covid has gone up sharply in recent weeks. There are now more than 600 people on a hospital ward with coronavirus, compared with just a few dozen last summer.
“You don’t need to panic if you get infected, but we still have a lot of hospital coronavirus patients. And they don’t get admitted without reason,” epidemiologist Alma Tostmann told news website Nu.nl.
The number of coronavirus particles found in waste water rose 23% in the first week of December, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard. The figure has been rising steadily since July.
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