What you need to know 

While many people recover quickly from COVID-19, some people experience symptoms long after recovery from the acute disease. These symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep problems, fever, anxiety, and depression. These and other long-term effects of COVID-19 are collectively referred to by the broad research term post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC). (SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.) These effects may continue months after recovery and may involve multiple organs and systems.  

NIH launched the PASC Initiative in February 2021 to bring together researchers and scientists. The research effort is working to identify the causes and the means to prevent and treat PASC, including what is commonly called Long COVID or long-haul COVID.  

What is this initiative about? 

The PASC Initiative aims to understand how people recover from COVID-19 and why some people do not fully recover after the viral infection seems to have cleared.  

Research will include people who have SARS-CoV-2 infection and PASC, as well as people who may not have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, for comparison. Researchers will collect data from these participants over time. The research cohort will include both children and adults, and will emphasize diversity, to ensure that the findings apply to the communities who have been most affected by COVID-19.  

Some people experience the symptoms of COVID-19 long after they recover from the disease. 

Why is this research important? 

The research will help us understand how to prevent and treat the symptoms and long-term effects of COVID-19.  

Some questions that this initiative hopes to answer include: 

  • What does the spectrum of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection look like across the population? 

  • How many people continue to have symptoms of COVID-19, or even develop new symptoms, after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection? 

  • What is the underlying biological cause of these prolonged symptoms? 

  • What makes some people vulnerable to this but not others? 

  • Does SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger changes in the body that increase the risk of other conditions, such as chronic heart or brain disorders? 

The initiative will include existing ongoing COVID-19 studies as well as new studies of people with PASC.  

Where can I go to learn more?  

PASC Research Opportunity Announcements (ROAs) 

The Initiative will be funded by a set of complementary areas of research through several solicitations or research opportunity announcements (ROAs).

SARS-CoV-2 Recovery Cohort Studies  

  • This ROA will combine two studies to leverage new and existing processes and data. One study includes people who are newly diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 and the other includes people who have recovered and have new or persistent symptoms. 

Clinical Science Core, Data Resource Core, and Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Biorepository Core  

  • This ROA includes three components: A Clinical Science Core to develop and implement master protocols, a Data Resource Core to oversee the collection and sharing of PASC-related data, and a PASC Biorepository Core to establish and maintain a central repository for the data. 

FAQs 

  • Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on PASC, including the initiative scope, application submission, ROA requirements, and budget.  

Presentation Materials  

  • Slides from the PASC Technical Assistance Workshop on March 1, 2021 

 

Contact Information:  

More Information 

NIH launches new initiative to study “Long COVID” 

  • Statement from NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., on the initiative launch.  

Trying to Make Sense of Long COVID Syndrome 

  • Dr. Collins blog post on the results of a study on PASC in January 2021 

Collaboration to Assess Risk and Identify Long-term Outcomes for Children with COVID (CARING for Children with COVID) 

  • NIH initiative to better understand SARS-Cov-2 infection in children  

Late Sequelae of COVID-19 

  • CDC page on PASC for health care workers  

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