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ARC East Midlands PhD student gets praise for Long COVID study

Statistician Daniel Ayoubkhani has picked up an accolade at a prestigious awards ceremony for his research into Long COVID. 

The University of Leicester PhD student – who was funded by ARC East Midlands – was presented with a Highly Commended in the ‘Campion Award for Excellence in Official Statistics’ category of the Royal Statistical Society’s annual awards.

Daniel, who also works for the Office for National Statistics and his colleagues were nominated by ARC East Midlands Director, Professor Kamlesh Khunti for his modelling and analysis work on ‘Estimating the prevalence of long COVID in the UK’ study.

The research programme involved pioneering a comprehensive work programme to understand widespread reports of debilitating symptoms persisting for months after COVID-19.

First, a monthly estimate of the prevalence of Long COVID in the UK was created, the only surveillance measure of chronic illness following a COVID infection nationally and internationally. Secondly, it conducted robust epidemiological analysis shedding light on the role of COVID-19 vaccination in Long COVID. 

Daniel said: “It’s an honour to be highly commended for this award, recognising a huge amount of hard work over the past 18 months by colleagues at the ONS and our academic partners at Leicester, Oxford, Southampton, and UCL. Our statistics have helped bring the burden of chronic illness following coronavirus infection to the fore of public attention, with nearly 2 million people in the UK currently experiencing suspected Long COVID, and have significantly contributed to national healthcare policy and spending decisions.”

The winner of the Campion Award for Excellence in Official Statistics was ‘The Coronavirus (Covid-19) Infection Survey’ by the Office for National Statistics COVID-19 Infection Survey team.

Dev Virdee, Chair of the Campion Award committee, said: “The last few years have been tough for government statisticians in ensuring we have the range and quality of statistics needed to respond to the pandemic and also that their regular outputs are maintained. They have risen to the challenge superbly. This year’s winning and highly commended teams are to be congratulated for the positive impact they have had on policy-making, providing the data needed to make well-informed decisions.”

Sir Robert Chote, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority, added: “The COVID-19 Infection Survey team are very worthy winners of this year’s Campion Award. They have continued to set a world-class standard in pandemic analysis with their expertise, innovation, and diligence. Their survey has been a critical tool for policymakers and I am delighted to see them recognised, together with the ONS Health Modelling Hub and Health Methods and Analysis Hub for their brilliant work on Long COVID. Many congratulations to both teams.” 

Published on: 15 Jul 2022