Article By: JESSICA KNIBBS - READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
LONG Covid: For some people, COVID-19 can cause symptoms which last weeks or months after the infection has gone with the main symptoms described as fatigue and headaches. A new study has found the cause as to why some are more susceptible to long Covid symptoms.
Data from the Office of National Statistics in August suggested almost 400,000 people in the UK have been suffering from long Covid for more than a year. Long Covid is an umbrella term encompassing symptoms which persist for more than a month and is known to have a debilitating effect on many sufferers’ lives. What causes some people to suffer from long Covid has baffled scientists, until now.
A small study has uncovered why long Covid exists for many people after recovering from a COVID-19 infection.
Researchers believe the cause could come down to having an overload of tiny clots which are trapped inside people’s blood weeks after they clear the initial infection.
Those susceptible to long Covid have a large amount of inflammatory molecules which are then trapped in their bloodstream which has the potential to disrupt the body’s ability to distribute oxygen and vital nutrients.
Another reason why many people experience long Covid symptoms of fatigue and headaches.
The South African researcher who made the discovery said the micro clots may be the cause of long Covid or one of several contributing factors.
Professor Resia Pretorius from the department of physiological science at Stellenbosch University compared blood collected from 11 people with long Covid and 13 healthy individuals.
“We found high levels of various inflammatory molecules trapped in micro clots present in the blood of individuals with long Covid,” she said.
“Some of the trapped molecules contain clotting proteins such as fibrinogen, as well as alpha (2)-antiplasmin.”
A previous study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine identified two main symptom clusters of long COVID: those comprising exclusively of fatigue, headache and upper respiratory complaints; and those with multi-system complaints including ongoing fever and gastroenterological symptoms.
Dr Shamil Haroon, co-Principal investigator of the University of Birmingham had commented how neither the biological or immunological mechanisms of long Covid, nor the rationale for why certain people are more susceptible to these effects were clear, further limiting the development of future therapies for long Covid sufferers.
The discovery by Professor Pretorius now paves the way for possible therapies to help cure long Covid symptoms.
Fibrinogen is a protein found in blood and helps the body make clots to stop bleeding.
Alpha (2)-antiplasmin is a molecule that helps prevent blood clots from breaking down.
Under normal conditions, the body maintains a balance of clotting and anti-clotting material to help the body reduce blood loss after injury.
This also prevent clots from growing too large and restricting oxygen flow.
Professor Pretorius said high amounts of alpha (2)-antiplasmin being stuck in the blood means the body's ability to break down clots is severely reduced.