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Seven kinds of COVID disease?

Wednesday November 4th 2020

Researchers in Austria have outlined seven distinct forms of disease in COVID-19 infection.

They believe that their findings could help towards both a treatment and an effective vaccine.

Dr Winfried Pickl and Dr Rudolf Valenta at the University of Vienna tested 109 people recovering from COVID-19 and 98 comparable healthy people.

They identified seven symptom groups: flu-like symptoms, common cold-like symptoms, joint and muscle pain, eye and mucosal inflammation, lung problems, gastrointestinal problems, and loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms.

Findings appeared in Allergy.

“This means that we were able to clearly distinguish systemic from organ-specific forms of primary COVID-19 disease," said Dr Pickl.

The team also found that the disease creates significant changes in the immune system, which can be detected up to ten weeks after infection in some people. They describe these changes as similar to a fingerprint, including a significantly reduced number of granulocytes.

Dr Pickl says: "Both the CD4 and CD8 T cell memory cells, and CD8 T cells, remained strongly activated. This indicates that the immune system is still intensively engaged with the disease several weeks after initial infection.

“At the same time, the regulatory cells are greatly diminished – and that is likely a dangerous mix, which could lead to autoimmunity."

He concludes: "Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the disease and help us in the development of potential vaccines, since we now have access to promising biomarkers and can perform even better monitoring.

"Above all, the study shows that the human immune system ‘doubles up’ when defending against COVID-19 with the combined action of immune cells and antibodies, and that the cells are also able to memorise certain ‘moves’ on the part of the virus and respond to them.”

* Researchers at King’s College, London, said they had found evidence of long-term persistence of the viral genome in respiratory and endothelial cells.

The study, published in eBioMedicine, also found that some lung cells had become unusually large because of the fusion of individual cells achieved by the viral spike protein.

The findings come from a study of 41 patients who died in Trieste, Italy.

Researcher Professor Mauro Giacca, of the British Heart Foundation Centre at King's College London, said: " The findings indicate that COVID-19 is not simply a disease caused by the death of virus-infected cells but is likely the consequence of these abnormal cells persisting for long periods inside the lungs."

Kratzer, B. et al. Immunological imprint of COVID-19 on human peripheral blood leukocyte populations. Allergy 31 October 2020 doi: 10.1111/all.14647


Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News

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