Long COVID has been confusing to deal with, for patients and physicians alike. The lack of a means of diagnosis has largely kept things at a standstill. New research, however, looks to change the playfield through blood tests.
Disentangling the symptoms of long COVID from those of other chronic conditions has been a head-scratcher — one that has spawned thousands of studies over a few years. Research has been confusing and contradictory at times, having millions dealing with symptoms that often go unacknowledged.
Explainer: Understanding this hot mess of disabling symptoms has made scientists look to the blood — who have found identifiable biomarkers in a “decisive step” toward long COVID detection.
They found that people with long COVID had:
However, these biomarkers can be highly variable among patients, requiring physicians to adopt a highly personalized approach to detection accounting for medical histories.
The researchers said that this study “is one of the first to show us clear, measurable differences in blood biomarkers of people with long COVID compared with people who recovered fully from an acute infection,” adding that “this is a decisive step forward in the development of valid and reliable blood testing protocols for long COVID.”
Long COVID is estimated to occur in at least 10 to 20 percent of COVID-19 cases, but the figures have been all over the place — owing to detection discrepancies.
A group of 10,000 participants recently described 12 symptoms that “best differentiated” a long COVID infection, including fatigue, brain fog, and gastrointestinal symptoms — but detection continues to evade many.
Meanwhile: The NIH’s Recover initiative has already launched several clinical trials in efforts to “rapidly improve our understanding of and ability to predict, treat, and prevent PASC, including long COVID.”