"One of the biggest failures during the Covid-19 pandemic is our slow response
in diagnosing and treating long Covid. As many as 100 million people worldwide
already suffer from long Covid. That staggering number will eventually be much
higher, if we take into account that diagnoses are still inadequate, and that
we still do not know what the impact of Omicron and future variants will be.
Patients with long Covid complain of numerous symptoms, the main ones being
recurring fatigue and brain fog, muscle weakness, being out of breath and
having low oxygen levels, sleep difficulties and anxiety or depression. Some
patients are so sick that they cannot work or even walk a few steps. There is
possibly also an elevated risk of stroke and heart attacks. One of the biggest
sources of concern is that even mild and sometimes asymptomatic initial
Covid-19 infection may lead to debilitating, long-term disability.
Since early 2020, we and other researchers have pointed out that acute Covid-19
is not only a lung disease, but actually significantly affects the vascular
(blood flow) and coagulation (blood clotting) systems.
A recent study in my lab revealed that there is significant microclot formation
in the blood of both acute Covid-19 and long Covid patients. With healthy
physiology, clots may form (for instance, when you cut yourself). However, the
body breaks down the clots efficiently by a process called fibrinolysis.
In blood from patients with long Covid, persistent microclots are resistant to
the body’s own fibrinolytic processes. We found high levels of various
inflammatory molecules trapped in the persistent microclots, including clotting
proteins like plasminogen, fibrinogen and Von Willebrand factor (VWF), and also
Alpha-2 antiplasmin (a molecule that prevents the breakdown of microclots).
The presence of persistent microclots and hyperactivated platelets (also
involved in clotting) perpetuates coagulation and vascular pathology, resulting
in cells not getting enough oxygen in the tissues to sustain bodily functions
(known as cellular hypoxia). Widespread hypoxia may be central to the numerous
reported debilitating symptoms.
So why can long Covid patients not go to their nearest clinic or health care
practitioner to find treatment options? Currently there are no general
pathology tests readily available to diagnose these patients."
Via Muse, who wrote "The latest on long COVID. Don’t let anyone say it’s all in
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics