Whether someone suffers from long-Covid after their corona infection is not necessarily related to the severity of the course. Even mild illnesses can result in long-lasting symptoms. However, a new blood test is now said to predict the risk of this already occurring during infection.

Almost every fifth corona patient falls ill after long-Covid. This is shown by data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease, which manifests itself, among other things, in severe exhaustion, occurs in both mild and severe cases. It is therefore not possible to draw conclusions about the long-Covid risk from the course.

However, researchers from Great Britain have now found an indication of whether a patient will later develop Long-Covid: changes in the blood plasma.

As the University College London team writes in a small study published in the journal Lancet eBioMedicine, patients who later develop Long-Covid have abnormal concentrations in their plasma proteins. These are proteins with many specific functions, which, among other things, stabilize the physical properties of the blood, as the “Apotheken-Umschau” writes. “Different values ​​indicate synthesis disorders, loss of protein, malignant neoplasms or disorders of the water balance,” it says there.

Many confuse the terms “Long-Covid” and “Post-Covid”. According to the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) definition:

Acute Covid illness: Symptoms and acute illness up to four weeks after infection.

Persisting Covid disease: Symptoms four to twelve weeks after infection.

Post-Covid: symptoms from twelve weeks after infection.

Long-Covid: symptoms from four weeks after infection. So the period after the acute Covid disease, this includes the ongoing Covid disease and post-Covid.

The science team examined 54 former corona patients from London hospitals and compared their health data with that of 102 controls.

It used a form of analysis that is extremely sensitive to minute changes in the amount of proteins in the blood plasma to study how Covid-19 affects these proteins over the course of six weeks. They found that anyone who had a proven corona infection had disturbances in the plasma protein content for up to six weeks. The researchers found unusually high levels of twelve of the 91 proteins studied in those infected with Sars-CoV-2, and that the degree of the abnormality was consistent with the severity of the symptoms.

They also found that abnormal levels of 20 proteins studied at the time of initial infection indicated persistent symptoms after a year. Most of these proteins have been implicated in anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory processes.

“Our study shows that even mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 disrupts the profile of proteins in our blood plasma,” lead author Gaby Captur summarizes the results. “This means that even mild Covid-19 disrupts normal biological processes for up to at least six weeks of the infection is dramatically impaired.” These findings could form the basis for a long-Covid blood test.

“Long Covid – the new widespread disease” by Jördis Frommhold

The tool for predicting Long-Covid still has to be validated in an independent, larger group of patients. “However, with our approach, a test could be introduced quickly and inexpensively that predicts long-Covid at the time of initial infection.”

The analysis method they use is readily available in hospitals and is also capable of analyzing thousands of samples in an afternoon.

Adding senior author Wendy Heywoodl, “If we can identify people who are likely to develop long-Covid, it opens the door to early trials of treatments such as antivirals in the early stages of infection.” She hopes that this will reduce the risk of developing long-term Covid-19 at a later date.