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Research paper: Links between Covid-19 and Pulmonary Fibrosis

August 2020
This research led by APF Trustee Prof. Gisli Jenkins looks at how Covid-19 might lead to increased cases of lung fibrosis.

We’ve summarised the research to date which suggests: Covid-19 and pulmonary fibrosis are both severe diseases involving a breakdown in the processes by which the body repairs injuries to the lung.

There are key differences between the lung fibrosis caused by Covid-19 and pulmonary fibrosis. Covid-19 causing a rapid inflammation of the lung and the damage caused by pulmonary fibrosis is much slower.

We do not yet know how many Covid-19 patients will develop progressive pulmonary fibrosis. But, given the large number of people hospitalised with Covid-19, there is likely to be a significant expansion in the number of people living with pulmonary fibrosis in the UK.

Acute lung injury by itself is not sufficient to cause progressive lung fibrosis. It is likely there are genetic variations common to people who go on to develop progressive pulmonary fibrosis.

We know that a number of genes are known to promote pulmonary fibrosis and we can be reasonably confident that genetics plays a key role in Covid-19 but continued research is needed.

Further research will aim to understand the shared mechanisms that exist between the two conditions and should benefit people with pulmonary fibrosis now and in the future. 

Read about Dr Richard Allen’s APF funded research into genetics and IPF

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