UK Study Explores Prevalence of Post-COVID Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease, CT scan
UK Interstitial Lung Disease Consortium-Long COVID study will generate data on the prevalence of interstitial lung disease (ILD) following COVID-19.

A report on a United Kingdom longitudinal study to determine the prevalence of interstitial lung disease (ILD) following COVID-19 was recently published in BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

It has been reported that post-COVID breathlessness affects approximately 40% of patients who are hospitalized with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, and between 10% and 20% of individuals who experienced mild COVID-19. Based on preliminary UK analysis as well as international studies, up to 80% of individuals with COVID-19 experience the presence of symptoms, radiologic changes, and lung function changes that are consistent with ILD, based on the severity of the underlying disease.

The UK Interstitial Lung Disease Consortium (UKILD) is conducting longitudinal, observational studies of patients with suspected long-COVID-19 ILD (LC-ILD), including the multicenter, prospective UKILD-Long COVID study. The primary objective of the study is to establish the prevalence of ILD at 12 months after a SARS-CoV-2 infection and to determine whether clinical severity is linked to severity of ILD among survivors of COVID-19. Secondary study objectives will establish the clinical, biochemical, genetic, and epigenetic factors that determine the trajectory of recovery from or progression of ILD. The primary endpoint of the study is a radiologically confirmed diagnosis of fibrotic or nonfibrotic ILD in the 12 months following a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Data will be obtained via linkage to the Post-Hospitalisation COVID (PHOSP-COVID) platform study, as well as from community studies, such as REACT.

Up to a total of 10,000 participants are anticipated to be recruited through the

PHOSP-COVID consortium, with an additional 2000 nonhospitalized individuals recruited as well. The investigators expect that approximately 20% (2400 of 12,000) of the individuals recruited into the UKILD-Long COVID study will exhibit features that are consistent with ILD, thus providing a sufficient sample size for descriptive analysis, evaluation of risk factors, and assessment of incidence and prevalence.

UKILD represents a network of nationwide ILD centers and integrated academic groups that are working in collaboration with large platforms for COVID-19 research, including the Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium, the PHOSP-COVID platform, and the REACT Long COVID studies.

Investigators for the UKILD-Long COVID study said that findings regarding the natural history and mechanisms of LC-ILD will help to foster the discovery of diagnostic, prognostic, and theranostic biomarkers and thus improve patient management. This, in turn, will help to inform future clinical trials and strategies that are designed to mitigate disease progression.

Disclosure: Some of the study authors have declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 


Wild JM, Porter JC, Molyneaux PL, et al. Understanding the burden of interstitial lung disease post-COVID-19: the UK Interstitial Lung Disease-Long COVID Study (UKILD-Long COVID). BMJ Open Respir Res. Published online September 23, 2021. doi:10.1136/bmjresp-2021-001049