For many Covid-19 patients, the end of the acute stage of infection is only the beginning of another difficult experience: Long Covid. Defined by the persistence of physical and neuropsychiatric symptoms over a period of 12 weeks or longer, the exact causes of long Covid remain largely elusive. A recent analysis by researchers at the University of New South Wales’ Kirby institute and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney sheds some light on the topic. In long Covid patients they have uncovered evidence of sustained inflammation and activation of the immune response for at least 8 months after initial infection. These findings provide a framework through which to define more accurately and diagnose long Covid.
Phetsouphanh et al. were given a chance to look for “biomarkers” underlying long Covid with help from data gathered as part of St Vincent’s Hospital’s ADAPT study. The study collected blood samples from unvaccinated Australians during the height of the country’s first pandemic wave,
Immune biomarkers are measurable indicators that act as a kind of map key, letting researchers know what processes and responses characterize a certain disease. This study represents the first laboratory analysis of long Covid’s impact on the immune system.