It's been an impactful couple of years in battling the Covid pandemic just from a health standpoint alone and there is so much to learn so that over time, there are even more ways to stay protected.

The Rutgers RWJ Medical School has received a $30-million grant to help lead a National Institutes of Health study as the team of researchers look to take a deeper dive into lingering effects of long-Covid in New Jersey youth.

"The main aim of the study is to look at long-Covid in children and young adults -- long Covid, as everyone knows is a serious problem and we know a lot more about it in adults than we do about it in children," Manette Ness-Cochinwala, Pediatric Critical Care Doctor at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson and the Bristol Myers Squibb Children's Hospital, tells Townsquare Media News. "We're still looking to understand long-Covid in both age groups to a much greater extent."

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They are looking for children and young adults from 0 to 25-years old to be enrolled in the study, with parental consent.

"I think the important thing about recruitment in this study is that we're actually looking to enroll anybody, so you don't have to have had Covid, you don't have to have Covid acutely, and you don't have to have symptoms of what you may think is long-Covid," Ness-Cochinwala said. "We're actually looking for all sorts of participants to help us really understand long-Covid in the general population."

The ultimate results of the study will be known in about 4-5 years but there is the possibility the team has something to build on in a shorter period of time.

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"We're actually hoping to actually have some preliminary information hopefully by early next year," Ness-Cochinwala said.

As the study moves along, there are a series of goals as they look more depth into long-Covid including what's affecting someone and how as well as leaving the door open for the possibility of another treatment down the line.

"We're looking, first and foremost, to understand the frequency of long-Covid in children because that's the really big and important question," Ness-Cochinwala said.

It's not just long-Covid they're looking to study either, it's other related illnesses as well such as MISC, "which is seen more in children than it is in adults."

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Part of the reason it's a 4-5 year study is the team of researchers wants to take an extended look at what happens with those involved.

"We also want to see how these children do over time and also, the mechanisms of illness," Ness-Cochinwala said.

For children and young adults involved in the study, the first phase will included providing blood and saliva samples, fill out an at-home questionnaire while the second phase will include a more in depth evaluation with more bloodwork, an electrocardiogram, and lung function testing to be done at the Pediatric Clinical Research Center at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick.

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It's also possible, some may be asked to continue in the study and undergo brain imaging, cognitive testing, and echocardiograms.

If you're interested in enrolling your son or daughter in this study or age of age to enroll yourself and would like to do so, you can head over to the Rutgers RWJ study website and fill out a survey.

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