Post-actue sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) is something people across the world have been struggling with. Yet, we know little about what increases centrain people's risk of developing long COVID.
The study published by the journal Cell was based on a deep multi-omic, longitudinal investigation of 309 COVID-19 patients.
37 percent of the COVID infected patients who participated in the study reported more than 3 symptoms of long COVID around two months after infection, according to the study authors.
The research covered the entire period starting from the initial diagnosis of the COVID-19 infection in the patients to convalescence (2-3 months later).
Symptoms of Long COVID or PASC
What Are the Four PASC Risk Factors?
The study helped to find four factors that could be identified at an early stage in a COVID-19 infected patient. These factors were linked with an increased risk of experiencing lasting COVID-19 symptoms weeks later.
According to the researchers, the findings of the study could be a stepping stone to better understanding long COVID, and finding ways to treat and prevent it.
The four PASC anticipating risk factors are as follows:
It is the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection which is also an indicator of viral load.
Presence of specific autoantibodies
Another factor is the presence of antibodies that attack the tissues in the body by mistake. This is most prevalent in people with conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Epstein-Barr virus viremia
The next factor is the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus. It is a virus that infects most people mostly when they are young. Although in most cases patients recover, sometimes the virus can remain in the body for years in a dormant state.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is also a significant risk factor for long COVID. However, the researchers said that in studies that involve a large number of patients, it turns out that diabetes is only one of the several medical conditions that increase the risk of PASC.
Although researchers have found these four factors to be the main cause for long COVID, experts have cautioned that the findings were exploratory, and more research is needed to verify them.
Another possible drawback of the study is that a large number of the patients in the primary study group were those who were hospitalised, which makes it difficult to gauge if the four risk factors apply to those with mild and moderate illness to the same extent.
(Written with inputs from the New York Times.)