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The blurred lines between sepsis and COVID-19

This week, the UK Sepsis Trust (UKST) launched a new health communications campaign to raise awareness of the relationship between COVID-19 and sepsis, and to offer patient support to those affected.

Disruptive banner ads run by UKST.

Understanding the link between sepsis and COVID-19

The relationship between the virus and sepsis is closer than first thought. Both sepsis and COVID-19 trigger a disproportionate immune response, as well as sharing symptoms such as fever spikes, breathlessness and muscle pain. It’s likely that at least 25% of COVID-19 related deaths are caused by sepsis. People who have survived COVID-19 are also likely to have an increased risk of developing sepsis during the recovery.

Furthermore, individuals who have recently had sepsis and not recovered fully are at an increased risk of developing an exaggerated response to COVID-19. UKST recommends that this patient population should take steps to self-shield.

The need for a patient support programme

The recovery profile of patients surviving COVID-19 who have been in intensive care is similar to people who have had sepsis. Recovering from a critical illness can take months, with many individuals experiencing new physical, cognitive, psychological problems during this period. In response to the coronavirus crisis, UKST has set up a COVID-19 Recovery Response, a patient support programme offering help to survivors and individuals bereaved by the virus.

Disruptive digital health communications

It’s more important than ever that the general public are aware of the link between COVID-19 and sepsis. UKST called on 11 London’s health charity communications expertise to create striking and disruptive media for social media, progressing the ‘Just Ask’ creative. We’re also running press ads in multiple publications, both offline and online in social and programmatic.

Matt Hunt, MD of 11 London, said: ‘Effective health communications need to stop people in their tracks and then be single-minded and give people just one thing to do. That was the simple message with “Just ask: could it be sepsis?”. Asking that single question was powerful and triggered both explanation and action from health professionals. So now, in these times of ever-shifting messages, it is most appropriate to help those affected COVID-19 or sepsis to “just ask for support”. A laundry list of symptoms and actions to remember and do is no good, but if you know the right person to ask for support then the answers will be there.’

UKST press ad.

About 11 London

11 London is an advertising and communications agency, based in West London. We work in the areas of health and humanity - with organisations, brands or products that improve or prolong life. To learn more about 11 London, please contact:


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