Covid Update: Long Covid Cures??

Almost one in eight individuals infected with the COVID virus (SARS CoV-2) develop chronic symptoms that can be debilitating; among these are fatigue, confusion, loss of taste and smell, and others.  This variable constellation of symptoms is called Long COVID. The causes suggested by a variety of studies indicate that persistence of the COVID virus is a common but not exclusive feature of Long COVID. COVID virus has been detected in most tissues of the body, including the brain and cells lining blood vessels and the GI tract, in persons who have died from COVID infection. If some virus persists in these different sites during Long COVID, it could explain the variety of symptoms.


Too little or too much immune response could be associated with Long COVID. In some Long Covid patients the inability to clear the virus may be due to weak immine response. However, many long COVID patients have a heightened immune response to both the COVID virus and other normally quiescent virus infections that are associated with chronic inflammation and abnormal levels of cells and proteins involved in blood clotting and immune system regulation. Anecdotal reports that Long COVID symptoms are diminished by vaccination or treatment with the antiviral compound Paxlovid suggest that getting rid of residual COVID virus might help individuals with Long COVID. There are now several ongoing clinical trials to test this hypothesis.


The journal Science published an article in the April 12th, 2024 issue entitled “Lessons in Persistence” that summarized ongoing clinical trials of agents that might treat the symptoms of Long Covid. The table below is reproduced from that article (J. Couzin-Frankel, Science 384 (6692), pp 150-153).