Photo: Westend61/Getty Images
An upcoming clinical trial conducted by Mayo Clinic seeks to identify new methods for treating post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS), also known as long COVID.
The study is teaming up with PN Medical, the maker of a line of cardiopulmonary training devices, to test the effectiveness of respiratory muscle training (RMT) for accelerating recovery and improving symptoms of COVID-19.
Called the COVID-19 Virtual Recovery Study, the clinical trial will be conducted completely virtually over a four-week period. Mayo Clinic’s researchers are focusing on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have completed a 14-30 day quarantine.
Participants of the study will receive one of PN Medical’s respiratory muscle training devices, either the Breather or the Breather Fit, and follow a training plan on the Breather Coach connected app.
The researchers will be assessing participants’ functional recovery, mental wellbeing and their ability to return to work or to pre-COVID-19 daily activities.
PN Medical and Mayo Clinic are enrolling participants now.
WHY THIS MATTERS
More than a third of COVID-19 patients have had lingering symptoms for months after infection, according to a University of Oxford and the National Institute for Health Research study. Common symptoms of long COVID include shortness of breath, fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste and smell, joint pain and depression.
Past studies indicate that RMT improves lung function, shortness of breath and quality of life for COVID-19 patients who needed mechanical ventilation.
“The respiratory system is central to a number of the lingering symptoms of long COVID,” Mark Carbone, CEO of PN Medical, said in a statement. “Implementing respiratory muscle training can positively impact the pathways involved in breathing and provide a gradual, progressive method to improve respiratory muscle function.”
Finding a drug-free way to treat lingering COVID-19 symptoms is significant not just for affected individuals but for the healthcare system at large since prolonged illness results in higher healthcare utilization and increased costs.
For example, long COVID patients are three times more likely than fully-recovered individuals to have further healthcare contacts after their initial infection, according to a study published in PLOS One.
THE LARGER TREND
The number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are falling in the United States after weeks of increases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Vaccines have emerged as the frontline defense against COVID-19. A recent study also shows that getting vaccinated can reduce the odds of lingering symptoms.
Of the three vaccines currently available in the U.S., Pfizer and BioNTech’s is the only one to get full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It is also the first to score an emergency use authorization for a booster dose, but both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have applied for booster-shot EUAs.
The VRBPAC has scheduled meetings for October 14 and 15 to discuss possible booster shot approvals.
ON THE RECORD
“PN Medical shares Mayo Clinic’s dedication to evidence-based science and cutting-edge research, in this case to develop drug-free solutions to help people improve their respiratory health,” Carbone said. “My hope is that this research study with Mayo Clinic will result in new protocols that lead to COVID resilience before, during and after positive exposure to the virus.”
Email the writer: email@example.com