TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — To better understand the health impacts of COVID-19, researchers at the University of Arizona are said to be leading the first statewide, long-term public health study of COVID-19 in Arizona.
Its called Arizona CoVHORT; an epidemiology study looking at large groups of people throughout Arizona and studying them over a 5-year period.
“You know, we have 99% of people survive this, but what happens to those 99% of people? Do they have longer outcomes; which we've seen in other infectious diseases, so we know that infectious diseases can cause chronic outcomes,” said Dr. Kristen Pogreba-Brown, CoVHORT’s lead researcher.
The idea is to follow people who have become positive and see what outcomes they have. But Dr. Pogreba-Brown says it is also important for researchers to study those who haven’t become positive during the pandemic as a baseline. She gives the example of using a baseline with diabetes.
“If you followed a group of people over time, even before COVID, you would have some number of those people develop diabetes. So by having the people who haven't been sick, we can understand what that baseline is. Also, when we have people so they enroll in baseline, maybe they aren't sick, but they get sick at three months into our study, then they let us know,” said Pogreba-Brown.
The CoVHORT study will be looking at side effects many people have already claimed to have after contracting and recovering from coronavirus; such as hair loss, continued fatigue, tooth decay and an elevated heart rate.“It's not like influenza, where it's mostly just a lung disease right? We have everything literally from head to toe. So you have people who are having report brain fogginess and have trouble concentrating, all the way other people who have what's called COVID-toes, where they have these like their toes turn purple and it's because of a lack of circulation,” said Pogreba-Brown.
This particular study will take a step back and rigorously look at the timeline and circumstances under which lingering symptoms develop. In addition, the study will look more closely at those who have contracted COVID but have not been hospitalized for it.
“Looking at the non-hospitalized population is really important too because those people are likely to survive. But what might the outcomes be that they have in addition to that? So those are the reasons that our study is, a little bit different. By opening it up so much we're able to look at both the hospitalized population, but really, the non hospitalized populations which is not been studied nearly as much in literature, thus far,” said Pogreba-Brown.
The project began in Pima County and is now recruiting statewide. Any Arizona resident can participate, whether you have contracted COVID or not. Join the research study here.