New research suggests that a blood test could eventually help determine someone’s risk for long COVID.
The study found that people who develop long COVID have lower levels of specific antibodies in their blood.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is still relatively new. Because of this, it is poorly understood and there is not one collective definition. Diagnosis and treatment options have exasperated both doctors and researchers worldwide. Find more information here.
It is still unclear the number of patients dealing with long COVID. Roughly a third of patients may experience symptoms for at least a month.
Scientists have yet to create one single test that can determine if you do have long COVID. This study is an effort to move in that direction.
What are they studying?
Dr. Onur Boyman is an author of this new study. He is also a researcher in the department of immunology at University Hospital Zurich.
During the first wave of the pandemic, in early 2020, Boyman began his research. He and his team followed patients through all stages of COVID-19.
He noticed several important differences after comparing over 500 patients, some of which went on to develop long COVID.
The most obvious difference was how immune systems of those that did develop long COVID initially reacted to the virus.
Boyman’s study showed marked decreases in levels of two immunoglobulins. IgM and IgG3 are the antibodies that the immune system produces to fight infections. Levels of these immunoglobulins tend to rise when faced with an infection in a healthy immune system.
What does it mean?
The levels of antibodies along with other factors were 75% effective in predicting who would get long COVID.
More research needs to be done to help accurately narrow the criteria that cause the illness.
Asthma, allergy illnesses, and chronic runny nose could be some of those determining factors.
If the information found in this study is confirmed in larger studies, it could be valuable for directing resources to those who need them most.
There is a catch. This study took place before the Omicron variant rooted itself here. The study also failed to take vaccination status into account.
Regardless, this research has potential to help diagnose and treat long COVID.
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