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Long COVID - Blood Protein Signatures Can Predict This


Long COVID is characterized by symptoms that appear about three months after catching SARS-CoV-2 and that no other diagnosis can account for, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to research, although hospitalized patients are more likely to have long COVID, 36% of outpatients who do not have a clinically serious infection can still get it.

Another study contends that the long COVID and impairment brought on by the emergence of COVID-19 may account for up to 30% of the SARS-CoV-2 health burden.

Researchers and medical professionals may be able to lower the risk of acquiring COVID and provide more effective treatment if they are aware of how long the condition takes to develop. A study comparing blood samples from healthcare professionals who had the SARS-CoV-2 virus and those who did not was recently released.

Long COVID Blood Protein ‘Signatures'

COPYRIGHT_SPINE: Published on https://spinal-injury.net/long-covid/ by Dr. Bill Butcher on 2022-10-06T10:19:10.011Z

New blood test could provide answers for long COVID patients

A total of 102 healthcare professionals without COVID-19 and 54 healthcare professionals with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis were recruited for the study. All participants were enrolled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and all cases were deemed to be "non-severe."

For up to 16 weeks, participants completed weekly assessments using questionnaires and blood sample collection. They later completed symptom questionnaires six and twelve months following the study's start.

The analysis of the data revealed that, in comparison to those who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, those who tested positive had higher levels of 12 proteins related to oxidative stress, metabolic reprogramming, and cell adhesion, which promote cellular contact.

They also discovered that the correlation between protein levels and illness severity increased as protein levels rose.

Additionally, the researchers found that aberrant protein levels in 20 proteins could predict the occurrence of protracted COVID. A few of these proteins have anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties.

Other predicted proteins included those involved in red blood cell synthesis and elevated iron levels, which have been connected to greater tissue damage from oxidative stress and weakened immunity in the past.

According to the researchers, non-severe SARS-CoV-2 changes blood proteins, and blood protein levels may be able to predict long COVID risk.

Research Is Still On Going

But there is still a long way to go. The preprint, which focuses mostly on female COVID patients who were diagnosed at the same institution over a long period of time, is still undergoing peer review.

Additionally, for individuals with short-term COVID, blood samples were not available to the researchers for longer than five months following the initial COVID infection.

In order to confirm the findings, blood samples from a larger, more representative group of COVID victims will need to be analyzed and compared with blood samples from COVID survivors who have fully recovered that were taken months or years after their first infection.

Swank and her co-authors intend to expand their study to hundreds of people in the future using blood samples gathered throughout the pandemic from various hospitals.

What This Means In Treating Long COVID?

It is too early, according to Dr. Heywood, to discuss practical applications.

We cannot make something better until we can measure a biomarker as an outcome. Laboratory-based changes in biomarkers can be more reliable indicators of response to treatment than asking how a patient feels. This will be important in monitoring the success of any trials of new therapeutics. Being able to identify people with a pre-disposition to developing long COVID early on could help us test new interventional treatments on the right people.”

- Dr. Wendy Heywood

The results, according to Dr. Johannes, are unlikely to have an immediate impact on how long COVID is managed, but if they are confirmed and validated in a bigger study, they might result in a test that can identify people who are most likely to acquire long COVID.

Dr. Hawkinson continued by saying that the findings might one day be utilized to help clinicians decide how or when to start prescribing medications like antivirals and anti-inflammatory drugs following the diagnosis of COVID-19.

For instance, maybe using Paxlovid early on for even young vaccinated patients may reduce risk of these persistent symptoms even though we have substantial data to support the fact that young, vaccinated patients do not have the significant benefit of hospitalization risk reduction that older patients have when using Paxlovi.

- Dr. Hawkinson


The British Heart Foundation, the Barts Charity, the National Institute for Health and Care Research Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, and the University College London Biological Mass Spectrometry Centre (BMSC) all provided funding for the study.

Researchers and medical professionals may be able to lower the risk of acquiring COVID and provide more effective treatment if they are aware of how long the condition takes to develop. Within six weeks of developing SARS-CoV-2, they discovered that blood protein levels might predict the long COVID.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher - With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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