Coronavirus symptoms: ‘Long COVID’ can cause damage to organs in previously healthy people

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People thought to be at low risk of coronavirus complications have shown signs of multiple organ damage – four months following an infection. The findings arise from a longitudinal study investigating long COVID.

The Coverscan researchers examined previously healthy individuals who had presented long COVID symptoms.

Yet to be “fully defined,” long COVID represents individuals who still suffer from symptoms three months post infection.

The most commonly reported prolonged symptoms were: fatigue, muscle aches, breathlessness and headaches.

Between April and September 2020, 201 people with long COVID symptoms were enrolled in the study.

The vast majority of the participants had a clean bill of health before catching COVID-19.

In addition, the participants were relatively young, with the average age of 44 years old.

Through a combination of MRI scans, blood tests, physical measurements and questionnaires, their health was assessed.

“There was evidence of mild organ impairment in the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen,” noted the researchers.

Organ damage

  • Heart (32 percent)
  • Lungs (33 percent)
  • Kidneys (12 percent)
  • Liver (10 percent)
  • Pancreas (17 percent)
  • Spleen (six percent)

In 66 percent of participants, “single organ impairment” was discovered; for 25 percent of participants, they had “multi-organ impairment”.

The researchers concluded: “In a young, low-risk population with ongoing [COVID] symptoms, almost 70 percent of individuals have [organ] impairment.”

Amitava Banerjee – one of the researchers – a cardiologist and associate professor of clinical data science at University College London commented on the findings.

“The good news is that the impairment is mild, but even with a conservative lens, there is some impairment.

“This is of interest because we need to know if [the impairments] continue or improve – or if there is a subgroup of people who could get worse.”

It’s encouraged that caution is needed when looking at the findings, as the participants were not examined prior to a COVID infection.

Thus, some of them may have had pre-existing organ impairments that they may not have been unaware of.

Moreover, the study is yet to be peer reviewed, so the preprint paper is waiting to be vigorously examined by other researchers.

This observational study is planned to be ongoing, so that more information on long COVID can be documented.

Meanwhile, encouraging news surrounding the BioNTech vaccine has been circulating.

The founder, immunologist Professor Uğur Şahin has said the jab has “no serious side effects”.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor Şahin noted the only side effects – so far – have been a fever and slight pain in the injection site.

The hope is that the vaccine will help to slow down the transmission and severity of the disease.

Older care home residents and care home staff are at the top of the priority list.

They are followed by healthcare workers and those aged 80 and above. Will you take the vaccine if offered it? Comment below.

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