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    HomeScienceLong Covid Mystery: Persistent Virus Shed Light on Chronic Symptoms

    Long Covid Mystery: Persistent Virus Shed Light on Chronic Symptoms

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    Coronavirus epidemic. People wearing face mask outdoors. Group of young volunteers. Coronavirus quarantine. Global pandemic. Worldwide coronavirus outbreak.
    Coronavirus epidemic. People wearing face mask outdoors. Group of young volunteers. Coronavirus quarantine. Global pandemic. Worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

    A landmark discovery has found that Covid-19 can persist in blood and tissue for months, even up to a year after initial infection, providing new insight into the elusive long-term effects of the virus. This evidence suggests that a portion of Long Covid symptoms may be linked to an ongoing infection.

    Positive COVID-19 test and laboratory sample of blood testing for diagnosis new Corona virus infection. Disease 2019 from Wuhan. Pandemic infectious concept. 2019-nCoV epidemic of China.
    Positive COVID-19 test and laboratory sample of blood testing for diagnosis new Corona virus infection. Disease 2019 from Wuhan. Pandemic infectious concept. 2019-nCoV epidemic of China.

    In a study that spans across both the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Harvard Medical School, researchers used an ultra-sensitive blood test to detect viral proteins from Covid-19 in the blood of 25% of patients, long after their first infection.

    Healthcare cure concept with a hand in blue medical gloves holding Coronavirus, Covid 19 virus, vaccine vial
    Healthcare cure concept with a hand in blue medical gloves holding Coronavirus, Covid 19 virus, vaccine vial

    These findings, originally presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver and later published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, shed light on the persistence of the virus in the human body.

    sick young woman with box of paper napkins sitting in bed
    sick young woman with box of paper napkins sitting in bed

    The study, which delved into the long-term health effects of viruses, leveraged a novel assay known as Simoa (Quanterix) single-molecule array detection platform. This assay, far more sensitive than regular tests, is capable of detecting tiny amounts of viral proteins with nearly a thousand times the sensitivity of standard research tests.

    selective focus of man in hazmat suit holding globe and showing hand with stop coronavirus lettering isolated on grey
    selective focus of man in hazmat suit holding globe and showing hand with stop coronavirus lettering isolated on grey

    According to Michael Peluso, MD, a co-author of the study, “The thing that I find so compelling about the data in this study is that there is a pretty striking relationship between how sick people were during their acute Covid infection and how likely they were to have evidence of antigen persistence.”

    sick young woman measuring temperature with mouth thermometer while lying in bed
    sick young woman measuring temperature with mouth thermometer while lying in bed

    This finding aligns with clinical intuition, suggesting that those with a greater initial viral burden may be more likely to experience viral persistence.

    A young woman in an empty public transport during the pandemic. Coronavirus.
    A young woman in an empty public transport during the pandemic. Coronavirus.

    Amy Proal, Ph.D., president and research director of PolyBio, which supported the study, stated, “This is very convincing evidence that at least a certain percentage of people are still harboring persistent virus after Covid.”

    Minister Fikile Mbalula inspects Rea-Vaya buses and stations as part of Coronavirus Covid-19 safety measures” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The study also referenced a research poster by a French team that showed the presence of Covid spike protein and double-stranded RNA indicative of viral replication in the platelets of Long Covid patients.

    MEC Bheki Ntuli monitors Covid-19 guidelines at Dlambula Primary School in Durban” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The implication of these findings is significant as they could potentially explain why some individuals continue to suffer from long Covid symptoms long after the acute phase of the disease has passed.

    Woman wearing mask in city.
    Woman wearing mask in city.

    Symptoms such as brain fog, digestive issues, and vascular complications could stem from these lingering fragments of the virus.

    President Cyril Ramaphosa sees off Coronavirus COVID-19 quarantined citizens from The Ranch Resort” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    Further reinforcing the study’s significance, data from the UCSF’s Long COVID Tissue Bank showed viral RNA persisting for up to two years post-infection in tissue samples.

    President Cyril Ramaphosa sees off Coronavirus COVID-19 quarantined citizens from The Ranch Resort” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    These persistent viral fragments were found in the connective tissue where immune cells are located, suggesting an ongoing immune response.

    mother wearing protective mask on daughter on bridge, air pollution concept
    mother wearing protective mask on daughter on bridge, air pollution concept

    The presence of COVID-19 antigens in blood and tissue has raised questions about the implications for long-term health risks. A study from Sweden, published by The BMJ, found that the risk for serious blood clots remained elevated for months following Covid-19 infection, underscoring the persistent health risks associated with the virus.

    Virus infection close up. 3D medical illustration of COVID-19. Coronavirus
    Virus infection close up. 3D medical illustration of COVID-19. Coronavirus

    These groundbreaking discoveries have spurred UCSF researchers to initiate multiple clinical trials to explore treatments such as monoclonal antibodies or antiviral drugs that could potentially alleviate the viral load in patients with Long Covid.

    Woman in protective suit hold test tube with positive result infected with coronavirus COVID - 19. Photo Illustration.
    Woman in protective suit hold test tube with positive result infected with coronavirus COVID – 19. Photo Illustration.

    As research in this area continues to evolve, there’s hope for a better understanding of the long-term consequences of Covid-19 and the development of strategies to mitigate its enduring impact on patients’ health.

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