Home / News / India /  How to predict if a patient will suffer 'long Covid' symptoms? Researchers find answer
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Not just severe, but mild cases of Covid-19 may also result in Post Acute Sequelae of Covid-19 (PASC), commonly referred to as long Covid, according to a study published in the 'Cell Journal'.

Further, researchers said that a significant portion of people who contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus (nearly 40%) suffer from PASC, which commonly includes fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste and smell, shortness of breath, and more.

The PASC factors are the presence of certain autoantibodies, pre-existing Type 2 diabetes, SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in the blood, and Epstein-Barr virus DNA levels in the blood.

The team also found that PASC is anticipated by autoantibodies (which are associated with autoimmune diseases like lupus) at diagnosis and that as autoantibodies increase, protective SARS-CoV-2 antibodies decrease.

This suggested a relationship between long Covid, autoantibodies, and patients at elevated risk of re-infections.

Due to this, they said that several factors can be measured at the initial point of Covid-19 diagnosis that anticipates if a patient is likely to develop long Covid.

They also suggested that administering antivirals very early in the disease course may potentially prevent some PASC.

"Identifying these PASC factors is a major step forward for not only understanding long Covid and potentially treating it, but also which patients are at highest risk for the development of chronic conditions," said Dr Jim Heath, ISB President and co-corresponding author of a research paper.

"These findings are also helping us frame our thinking around other chronic conditions, such as post-acute Lyme syndrome, for example," he added.

In addition to this, Dr Jason Goldman, co-corresponding author of the paper and an infectious disease expert at Swedish, said that long Covid is causing significant morbidity in those who have tested negative. “Yet the pathobiology is poorly understood."

"Our study pairs clinical data and patient-reported outcomes with deep multi-omic analyses to unravel important biological associations that occur in patients with PASC. Certain findings such as the low cortisol state in patients with long Covid have the potential to translate rapidly to the clinic. Our results form an important foundation for the development of therapeutics to treat long Covid," he added.


Researchers collected blood and swab samples from 309 Covid-19 patients at different time points to perform comprehensive phenotyping which was integrated with clinical data and patient-reported symptoms to carry out a deep multi-omic, longitudinal investigation.

A key finding from the study deals with viral load, which can be measured near diagnosis to predict long Covid symptoms.

"We found that early blood viral measurements are strongly associated with certain long Covid symptoms that patients will develop months later," said Dr. Yapeng Su, a co-first and co-corresponding author of the paper.

In addition, researchers found the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – a virus that infects 90% of the human population and is normally inactive in the body after infection - is reactivated early on after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is significantly associated with future long Covid symptoms.

"This may be related to immune dysregulation during Covid-19 infection," Su added.

"Many patients with high autoantibodies simultaneously have low (protective) antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-2, and that's going to make them more susceptible to breakthrough infections," said Daniel Chen, a co-first author of the paper.

The research project was a collaboration between ISB, Providence, Swedish the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Stanford, UCLA, UCSF, and others.

With inputs from agencies. 

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