Trial seeks people with long COVID cognitive symptoms

UW Medicine is an enrollment site for a national clinical trial studying potential therapies for brain fog and other aftereffects.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg - 206-390-3226, 

UW Medicine clinical scientists will help evaluate therapies for long COVID as part of the RECOVER Initiative clinical trials series directed by the National Institutes of Health. 

RECOVER, which stands for Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery, encompasses several studies nationwide to assess several potential therapies. These include drugs, biologics, medical devices and other approaches.

The Seattle site is enrolling potential participants for one such trial, RECOVER-NEURO. It will examine interventions for brain fog, memory lapses, difficulty with attention and other cognitive problems that persistently trouble some people who have had COVID. 

People with long COVID can experience symptoms continuously or intermittently for months after their initial infection. Symptoms vary among individuals. Commonly reported problems are fatigue, brain fog, decreased physical endurance, memory lapses or difficulty learning and solving problems. 

U.S. trial sites will evaluate different treatments. This simultaneous gathering of data will determine more quickly which therapies are effective. Interventions that do not show promise can be ended, and those trials would then switch to test other approaches. 

Previously, during the first part of the RECOVER Initiative, observational studies were established to examine and track COVID-19 patients. This effort aims to learn why some people develop long-term symptoms while others recover completely. These ongoing studies have so far recruited more than 24,000 participants. Researchers also are analyzing more than 60 million electronic health records and more than 40 pathobiology studies to see how COVID-19 affects different body tissues and organs. 

 Initial data helped in developing the phase 2 clinical trials, which typically test the safety and effectiveness of treatments in groups of 100 to 300 participants. 

UW Medicine in Seattle is one of the sites for the first two clinical trials in this series. The research team is headed by Dr. Helen Chu, professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Chu is an expert in communicable respiratory diseases. 

When the novel coronavirus made its way to the United States, Chu’s team was prepared to detect it through community surveillance methods already in place in their Seattle Flu Study. The team has continued to conduct major research projects on the consequences of the COVID infection as well as its prevention and treatment. 

The team is actively enrolling participants for the RECOVER-NEURO trial, which will assess whether long COVID-based declines in cognitive function and attention might be improved by interventions that selectively focus on enhancing those areas. UW Medicine researchers will evaluate the effectiveness of online cognitive-training programs and transcranial direct-current stimulation to reduce these neurological symptoms. 

If you are interested to enroll in RECOVER-NEURO, please email

Find more information on these NIH RECOVER Initiative clinical trials. 

Written by Leila Gray.


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