A British study shows that, in patients suffering from a long form of the coronavirus, damage is observed on the organs, months after their contamination.
It is a phenomenon that has not yet revealed all its secrets: the long forms of the coronavirus. A few months after the peak of the first wave which took place last spring in France, patients who contracted Covid-19 were reporting persistent symptoms, including fatigue, headaches or shortness of breath.
A finding that the WHO made from June 22. “Some people have persistent symptoms, such as a dry long-term cough, fatigue or shortness of breath when climbing stairs,” explained American epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove at a conference.
Asked at the beginning of September on the subject, Doctor Nicolas Barizien, head of the functional rehabilitation service at the Foch hospital in Suresnes, explained to us that 5 to 10% of people who caught the coronavirus would suffer from persistent symptoms.
People with #LongCovid speak. It’s real, we need to prevent it, and we must support those affected.
— Dr Zoë Hyde (@DrZoeHyde) November 16, 2020
Effects in low-risk subjects
Several studies have since been conducted on the subject, notably in Great Britain. One of them has just revealed its first results, which were published in The Guardian on November 15th. It was carried out on around 500 patients who contracted Covid-19 and presented with persistent symptoms, but who were not at risk profiles – rather young (the average age is 44 years old) and in good health. They were subjected to MRI scans, blood and physical tests, and a questionnaire.
The first results show that out of 200 patients, 70% have deficiencies in at least one of their organs (including the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas) four months after the disease. “The good news is that the cloudiness is mild, […] but it is existing. And in 25% of subjects, the problem affects two organs or more, ”commented Amitava Banerjee, cardiologist and associate professor at the University of London, to the Guardian.
Aggression against certain organs
These initial conclusions lead to other questions, and in particular that of the duration of symptoms over time, as summed up by the cardiologist: “We need to know if the problem persists, resolves itself, or if the situation worsens in certain individuals. ”.
Furthermore, in addition to the actual presence of deficiency in certain organs, this study showed that there could be a link between the symptoms and the abnormalities identified. In people with shortness of breath, damage has been observed on the heart or lungs, in those with digestive symptoms, it is the pancreas or the liver that bears the marks. “It confirms the idea that there is an attack against certain organs, that we can detect and which can allow us to explain at least some of the symptoms and the trajectory of the disease”, analyzed Amitava Banerjee.
On the other hand, as the associate professor at the University of London reminded us in the British daily, the study does not show, for the moment, that the problems observed on the organs are the direct cause of the persistent symptoms in patients. patients. Especially since the subjects had not necessarily passed an examination on these organs before having Covid-19, which means that some may have had problems on the organs concerned before having the virus, although this is unlikely according to Amitava Banerjee, since they were in good health.
Link between inflammation and organ damage
A few weeks earlier, on October 18, partial results of another study on the long forms of the coronavirus were also unveiled. This was carried out on 58 patients who developed a moderate to severe form of the coronavirus. Two or three months after infection, 60% of people showed an abnormality of the lungs, 29% of the kidneys, 26% of the heart and 10% of the liver. Changes in certain brain tissues were also observed. In addition, concerning the symptoms, 64% of the patients observed still suffered from persistent shortness of breath and 55% complained of severe fatigue.
“It is interesting that the abnormalities seen on MRI scans and during physical tests correlate strongly with serum markers of inflammation. It suggests a potential link between chronic inflammation and organ damage in Covid survivors, ”commented Dr Betty Raman, who co-leads this study. He added, however, that, as with the other study, it was unclear whether certain abnormalities were not already present in patients’ organs before the virus.
Research that helps to see more clearly on long forms, but which therefore does not yet answer all the questions on the subject.
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