10 to 30 percent of all those who are proven to be infected with Sars-CoV-2 develop long-term symptoms that can last for weeks, months or years, such as exhaustion, shortness of breath or difficulty concentrating. Whether and when the symptoms will stop in those severely affected by the so-called Long Covid is just as unclear as a therapy that is not only intended to alleviate symptoms. A US team has identified four factors that significantly increase the risk of Long Covid. This is what Yapeng Su and Co report in the journal »Cell«. However, the working group points out that there could be other influencing factors.
The scientists observed 200 patients two to three months after their first Covid 19 diagnosis, with ages ranging from 18 to 89 years. Those affected had contracted the coronavirus in 2020 and early 2021; So Su and Co cannot make a statement about Omicron. The sufferers were asked about 20 symptoms that are considered typical of Long Covid, such as permanent fatigue, shortness of breath or cognitive impairment.
Of the patients who reported three or more symptoms, 95 percent had one or more of the four factors identified in the study. These included a high viral load in the blood at the beginning of the infection (detected by high levels of viral RNA) and the occurrence of certain autoantibodies that are directed against one’s own body and also occur, for example, in rheumatoid arthritis or other autoimmune diseases. Another risk factor was reactivated Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can cause mononucleosis and which many people contract early in life. They can lie dormant in the body for a long time. And finally, many who already have type 2 diabetes were affected. However, the researchers do not rule out that other pre-existing conditions also increase the risk of Long Covid.