Together with colleagues in Denmark and Sweden, Charles Agyemang has received a Novo Nordisk Foundation grant worth of 700K euros to provide knowledge that can be used to design effective interventions to combat the long-term consequences of COVID-19, targeting people with migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds living in Denmark, The Netherlands and Sweden.

The Danish Health Authority estimates that 10% of the people who get COVID-19 experience long-term symptoms or consequences after the initial disease trajectory.

Several reports indicate that COVID-19 is not just an acute respiratory disease but may cause long-term disease or discomfort by affecting the body’s organ systems. COVID-19 seems to cause persistent symptoms even among people with milder forms, and knowledge is limited on the number of people who have long-term symptoms or consequences and how to best treat these people.

To create new knowledge about this area, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded six research projects with a grant that will investigate the nature, incidence and distribution of long-term symptoms among people who have had COVID-19.

Brief project description

In Europe and the US, remarkably higher rates of positive SARS-CoV-2 tests and subsequent hospitalization with COVID-19 has been shown among migrant and ethnic minorities compared to the majority population. This overrepresentation has overall been explained by circumstances related to health, communication barriers and socioeconomic status among migrants and ethnic minorities. Simultaneously, increasing numbers of patients with long-term health consequences of COVID-19 have been observed. As migrants and ethnic minorities are disproportionally more affected by SARS CoV-2/COVID-19, they are presumably also at higher risk of being COVID-19 long haulers. The knowledge gap is vast regarding long-term effects of COVID-19 as such; and even more unexplored is the extent to which migrants’ and ethnic minorities experience long-term symptoms.

OuThis project therefore addresses the nature, incidence, distribution and duration of the long-term health consequences of COVID-19 among patients with migrant and ethnic minority background. We use an interdisciplinary approach based on mixed-methods in a collaboration between leading European institutions to provide novel evidence on this pertinent health problem. Embedded in three work packages, we investigate two overall research aims.

First, based on unique Scandinavian register data, we explore differences in the incidence of long-term health consequences of COVID-19 including the role of comorbidities, socioeconomic status, residential information and migration related factors. Second, based on data from two hospital cohorts along with qualitative interviews, we investigate differences in experiences of the nature, distribution and duration of long-term symptoms. Our ambition is to provide much needed innovative knowledge that may inform clinicians and health policy makers on how to design effective interventions targeting long-term health consequences of COVID-19 among patients with migrant and ethnic minority background.