Blood test during the time period of Covid-19 infection can help in detecting if a person is likely to develop Long Covid or not. To conduct the study, researchers examined proteins in the blood samples collected from healthcare workers infected with COVID-19 and compared them to the blood taken from the blood stream of healthcare workers who had not been infected with Coronavirus.
Normally, protein levels in our body are stabilized. However, the researchers found a significant difference in the levels of some of the proteins till six weeks after infection, indicating that there was an interruption in a number of vital biological processes. By using an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, they discovered a ‘signature’ in the huge amount of different proteins that successfully indicated whether an individual would go to report the prolonging and persistent symptoms a year following the infection or not.
The researchers noted that if these study findings are repeated in a larger, separate group of patients, a test could be provided along with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that can predict of a person is likely to develop long covid symptoms, The study’s lead author, Dr. Gaby Captur (MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Aging at UCL) said, “Our study shows that even mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 disrupts the profile of proteins in our blood plasma. This means that even mild Covid-19 affects normal biological processes in a dramatic way, up to at least six weeks after infection.”
He further added, “Our tool predicting long Covid still needs to be validated in an independent, larger group of patients. However, using our approach, a test that predicts long Covid at the time of initial infection could be rolled out quickly and in a cost-effective way. The method of analysis we used is readily available in hospitals and is high-throughput, meaning it can analyze thousands of samples in an afternoon.”
The study’s senior author Dr. Wendy Heywood (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital) said, “If we can identify people who are likely to develop long Covid, this opens the door to trialling treatments such as anti-virals at this earlier, initial infection stage, to see if it can reduce the risk of later long Covid.”