Gilead Pfizer GSK Newman Fellowship in Post Covid 19 Syndrome

UCD Newman Fellow and infectious diseases specialist Dr Brendan O’Kelly is working with colleagues at UCD School of Medicine and Dublin’s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital to improve outcomes for patients with symptoms of long Covid.

The findings of a pilot study into the safety and efficacy of low dose naltrexone as a treatment for patients experiencing symptoms for at least 3 months post infection with the virus were published this month in the journal Brain, Behavior, & Immunity – Health.

This builds on Brendan’s previously published work showing that one quarter of patients attending a Covid follow-up clinic met the definition of ‘Post Covid-19 Syndrome’ one year after initial diagnosis. Furthermore, these patients had a significant reduction in their physical wellbeing, demonstrated using well-validated Health-related Quality of Life Questionnaires. The results were published in The International Journal of Infectious Diseases in March 2022.

Congratulating Brendan on these publications, Professor Jack Lambert, who supervises the Newman Fellowship research project, reiterated that “this is groundbreaking work” and should be highlighted more widely.

Not just a lung disease

A multitude of symptoms have been reported for Covid-19 – including shortness of breath, palpitations and chest pain – and in the early stages of the pandemic, clinicians anticipated that any lasting complications of infection would be primarily related to the heart and lungs. However, the research conducted at the Long Covid Clinic in the Mater Hospital tells a different story.

Brendan and his colleagues found a surprisingly high number of patients were suffering from psychological and psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and almost three-quarters had concerning alcohol use.

Long Covid is a multifaceted condition that can have a severe impact on patients’ wellbeing and quality of life. However, there is no pharmacotherapy yet approved for its treatment. The positive indications from Brendan’s research involving low dose naltrexone now pave the way for further exploration in a larger study cohort.

UCD Newman Fellowship Programme

Dr Brendan O’Kelly is one of twenty passionate and brilliant researchers currently supported by the Newman Fellowship Programme. He graduated with a medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in 2013 and became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in 2016. He has worked in Beaumont Hospital, The Mater Hospital and St James’s Hospital as an Infectious Diseases Specialist Registrar, and completed clinical training in Infectious Diseases in July 2021.

Established over 30 years ago, UCD Newman Fellowship Programme gives exceptional young academics the freedom to pursue ambitious research in their chosen field. This extraordinary opportunity is made possible entirely thanks to generous philanthropic donors and the commitment and support of academic mentors across a diverse range of disciplines. Brendan’s Fellowship is supported by Gilead, Pfizer and GSK.

Recent Media Coverage and Further Information

RTE News at One with Brian Dobson – Listen at 31:30

Independent Newspaper Article with Professor Jack Lambert

Interview with Dr Brendan O’Kelly and Nora Casey on Matt Cooper the Last Word

Journal Article: Safety and efficacy of low dose naltrexone in a long covid cohort; an interventional pre-post study

Journal article: Assessing the impact of COVID-19 at 1-year using the SF-12 questionnaire: Data from the Anticipate longitudinal cohort study