Immune cells that coronavirus survivors develop in an attempt to fight the infection may turn on some of them, attacking healthy tissues, new research suggest.
The off-target assaults of these rogue immune cells may be the culprit of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ lingering symptoms, the Emory University scientists suspect.
So-called ‘autoantibodies’ are similar to the autoimmune responses seen in diseases like lupus, some forms of hepatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
If coronavirus’s autoantibodies follow the suit of these conditions, long-covid may not be curable.
But now that the scientists have discovered they can test for these rogue antibodies, they hope they can identify who has them and develop treatments to combat flare ups like those that already exist for older autoimmune diseases.
The number of coronavirus survivors suffering ‘long-covid’ is hard to pin down, but ever-growing.
One study found that 81 out of 110 – about 74 percent – of a group of UK COVID-19 patients who had been hospitalized for the infection were still suffering lingering symptoms three months after they were discharged.
Other studies have estimated the figure to be closer to a more conservative one in 10.
The lingering symptoms have struck people of all ages, including children and teenagers as well as elderly people and pregnant women.
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Source: Daily Mail