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Thomas Ashton Institute for Risk and Regulatory Research

Annual lane lecture: Long-COVID - should this be in the occupational disease fast lane? Dr Lesley Rushton

5 October 2021

Since January 2020 the UK has experienced waves of infection due to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and there have been thousands of cases and deaths from Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Knowledge of many aspects of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, including detection, transmission, diagnosis, treatment and disease progression, has gradually accumulated. Awareness of longer-term disabling effects, Post-COVID Syndrome (‘Long-COVID’) occurred towards the end of 2020.

The generation of huge amounts of data investigating factors associated with COVID-19 and publication of numerous research studies has been rapid.

The many challenges this presents to risk assessors, decision makers and regulators in relation to occupation will be outlined and discussed.

image of a woman in a surgical face mask, surrounded by viruses

Dr Lesley Rushton is an epidemiologist/statistician with extensive research experience into occupational and environmental causes of ill health. She has specialised in health studies in various industries, including benzene exposure in the petrochemical industry, lung cancer and silicosis in the silica sand industry and dermatitis in the printing industry.

She led the major study estimating the current and future burden of cancer due to occupation in Britain; methods have been extended in many countries including the EU and Canada and have informed risk reduction strategies. She collaborated in team designing and applying an occupational module for UK Biobank to evaluate occupational causes of COPD. Methodological research includes systematic review and meta-analysis in the areas of risk assessment and cross-design synthesis.

She has been a member of several UK government committees and is currently the Chair of the UK Industrial Injuries Advisory Council and member of the UK Committee on Carcinogenicity.

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