Symptoms persist for two years for some; inflammatory protein models may provide long COVID clues

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that deserves further study to corroborate the findings and that has not yet been certified by peer review.

COVID-19 symptoms still plague many people two years later

Half of COVID-19 patients discharged from a Chinese hospital in early 2020 still have at least one symptom two years later, a new study has found.

Overall, regardless of initial disease severity, the 2,469 COVID-19 survivors in the study showed improvements in their physical and mental health over time. Nearly 90% of those who had a job returned to their job within two years. But the survivors had a “remarkably” poorer health status than the general population at two years, and their burden of sequelae symptoms “remained quite high”, the researchers reported in The Lancet Respiratory Diseases on Wednesday. At two years, 55% still had at least one sequelae of COVID-19, according to the report. Fatigue or muscle weakness were the most frequently reported symptoms during the study. Patients who had required mechanical ventilation for severe illness still had high rates of pulmonary failure at two years.

“Our results indicate that for a certain proportion of hospitalized COVID-19 survivors, although they may have cleared the initial infection, it takes longer than two years to fully recover from COVID-19,” the researchers said.

Protein ‘patterns’ can help classify long COVID patients

Patterns of inflammatory proteins in the blood of people with long COVID could one day help guide individualized treatment, new findings suggest.

Researchers studied 55 people with long-term COVID who had only been mildly ill with COVID-19 and found that about two-thirds had high levels of inflammatory proteins in their blood, with ongoing inflammation more likely. to be with those most affected. long COVID symptoms. “While previous research has shown elevated levels of these proteins in long-term COVID patients, we provide the first evidence that more than half ‘have a specific signature or pattern, while others do not. not, the researchers reported Tuesday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review. .

“At least two different patterns of inflammatory proteins were detected,” said study leader Troy Torgerson of the Allen Institute for Immunology in Seattle. The existence of these patterns suggests that the immune system is activated in specific ways that might respond to treatment with existing anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs, Torgerson said. “Measuring these proteins in the blood could help identify long COVID patients who might be good candidates for treatment studies using these drugs or possible future treatments.

Mixing vaccinees can make vaccines less effective

Increased contact between vaccinated people can give the false impression that COVID-19 vaccines don’t work, researchers warn.

Some studies have suggested that vaccinated people are infected at higher rates than unvaccinated people, but these studies are likely to involve statistical errors, especially if they do not take into account different contact patterns between vaccinated people. and unvaccinated, said Korryn Bodner of St. Michael’s. Hospital, Unity Health Toronto. Using computer models to simulate outbreaks with a vaccine that protects against infection and transmission, his team identified conditions that could create “a perfect storm for observing negative vaccine efficacy even when a vaccine was effective,” Bodner said. Effective vaccines might appear ineffective when vaccinated people have more contact with each other than with unvaccinated people, when vaccine benefits wane but are not absent (as happened with new SARS-CoV variants -2), or when efficacy is measured while an outbreak is growing (such as when a new variant emerges), according to a report published on medRxiv ahead of peer review.

The simulations do not prove that this type of bias affected the efficacy studies of the vaccine versus the Omicron variant. They show, however, that “even if vaccines work, increased contact between vaccinated people can lead to the emergence of a vaccine that doesn’t work,” Bodner said.

Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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