Coronavirus: Arkansas researchers ID potential source of COVID-19 ‘long-hauler’ symptoms

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A research team at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences has identified a possible source for long-term symptoms experienced by COVID-19 patients, often referred to as long-haulers.

The findings indicate that an antibody that emerges weeks after an initial infection “attacks and disrupts a key regulator of the immune system,” KTVH reported.

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“Everything that we’ve found is consistent with this antibody as the instigator of long COVID, so it’s an exciting development that merits further study,” lead researcher Dr. John Arthur stated in a news release spotlighting the findings.

Specifically, the antibody interferes with an enzyme that fuels the body’s response to the coroavirus, the TV station reported.

The small study involved only 80 patients from Arkansas and Oklahoma, including 67 with a known COVID-19 infection and 13 with no history of the virus. No antibodies were detected in the plasma or serum of any of the non-COVID-19 patients tested, while 81% of the COVID-19 patients revealed the antibody’s presence, KATV reported.

“If our next steps confirm that this antibody is the cause of long COVID symptoms, there are medications that should work to treat them,” Arthur stated, noting the next research phase would involve testing such drugs helping long-haulers achieve symptom relief.

UAMS officials said as many as 30% of COVID-19 patients experience lingering fatigue, brain fog and shortness of breath following their initial illness, the TV station reported.

Click here to learn more about the UAMS research.

More coronavirus pandemic coverage:

>> Coronavirus: How long between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms?

>> What are your chances of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19? This tool will tell you

>> How to not let coronavirus pandemic fatigue set in, battle back if it does

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