Long Covid: The preliminary findings of a study conducted by University of Washington and Institute for Systems Biology in association with Swedish Medical Center, US was recently published in a journal ‘Cell’.
People who are slowly recovering from Covid are experiencing ‘Long Covid’. The situation or condition is comprised where both neurological and cognitive symptoms of the disease tend to persist for weeks or months after infection.
In medical terminology, it’s called Post-Acute Covid Syndrome (PACS) or Post-Acute Sequelae of Covid-19 (PASC) which still needs to be understood thoroughly.
In the latest research performed by the Institute for Systems Biology, Washington and others, scientists have actually narrowed down four risk factors known to increase the situation of long covid.
In their quantum of study, researchers studied a group of covid patients where they chose to corroborate their results with other people affected by the disease.
The 4 factors that are narrowed down in the study include the reactivation of the common herpes virus, higher viral load of the disease, Type 2 diabetes and the development of auto antibodies.
The researchers further stated that Covid can be better managed with people identified with these biological factors.
The preliminary finding of the report was published in the journal Cell this week.
Patients With More Symptoms Had One Contributing Factor
Researchers first examined as many as 209 Covid patients. They followed them up for another 3 months. The above study was conducted at different medical centers across the US.
Most of the samples of patients taken in the study were affected with Covid in 2020 and 2021. And so, they were monitored for as many as 20 symptoms associated with long covid. Some of the symptoms include brain fog, fatigue and shortness of breath.
Out of these patients close to 37% of them had 3 or more symptoms persisted for 2-3 months after infection. Another 24% patients reported 1-2 symptoms, while 39% stated that they didn’t experience any symptom related.
Now, the point to be noted here is that out of those reporting 3 or more symptoms, 95% of them were identified with at least one of the four contributing factors mentioned above.
Out of these contributing factors, the most prominent one was found to be the development of auto antibodies that actually start attacking a person’s own immune system.
The overall development of these antibodies were found to correlate with the concentration of other antibodies targeting specific parts of the coronavirus and its spike protein.
Along with other factors, the Covid-19 viral load and level of viral RNA also played a crucial role in its development. People having higher viral load have increased probability of getting severe disease.
The third factor that was studied to establish the occurrence of this disease was the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and the common herpes virus during the coarse of their infection.
The fourth and the final factor was the presence of type-2 diabetes. As per researchers, it could be one of the four reasons that contributed an increased probability of the occurrence of severe disease.
Covid Can Be Managed Better?
The researches continued with their findings in 100 more Covid patients. Many of them had suffered mild infections. They also studied the data from another 457 Covid patients who didn’t complain of experiencing it after infection.
After the identification of these 4 factors, researches have to say that Covid can be managed better. For example, right after having an infection, such patients can be given antiviral treatments so as to keep the viral load in check against EBV.
They also noticed patients with the formation of higher auto antibodies. Such patients had lower protective antibodies. And this was enough to make them susceptible for reinfection.
Researches also concluded that patients who had severe form of Covid experienced long Covid.
Patients having history of lung conditions like bronchitis and asthma were found to be at higher risk of developing prolonged symptoms.