While Covid-19 has caused devastation across the globe, it is sometimes easy to forget about the aftereffects of the condition. Long Covid has become a problem for many of those who contracted the virus, but we may soon have tests for this condition.
Researchers at Imperial College London hope their early findings from an ongoing project could lead to a blood test for long Covid being developed in 6-18 months. One of the researchers, Dr Elaine Maxwell, said that while the initial findings were exciting, continued research was essential because of the complexities of long Covid.
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No tests currently available
At present, there are no tests available for long Covid, and this has created a lot of difficulties for both medics and sufferers. In addition, little is understood about the condition at present. Still, experts hope their latest findings will enable them to learn more and quickly detect the condition through a simple blood test that can be performed at a doctor's surgery.
Professor Danny Altman, leading the research, said he was concerned the government's mantra of learning to live with Covid could lead to another spike in infections, which could then mean another surge in long covid infections.
He said, "If we're heading into a phase of 100,000 cases per day, and, we're saying that 10-20% of all infections can result in long Covid, I can see no certainty that we're not brewing those long Covid cases despite having a vaccinated population."
Autoantibodies causing long Covid
One of the key findings of the latest research is that those who had not had Covid or had recovered from it quickly did not have autoantibodies in their blood. These rogue antibodies attack healthy cells in the body rather than protecting them in the same way as regular antibodies. Experts believe this could be one of the causes of long Covid in some people.
It is also thought long Covid could stem from the virus lingering in the bodies of some sufferers. It could also be down to certain people having a much weaker immune system than others.
While the recent research was completed on a small scale, experts will carry out further investigations to learn more about the possible causes of long Covid and how to identify them with ease. Nevertheless, the early findings have been described as an ‘exciting advancement.’
Data from the Office for National Statistics show that more than 960,000 people across the UK had long Covid in the month leading up to 4th June. Figures also suggest that around 385,000 people across the nation have been experiencing symptoms for more than a year.