The 7 forms of COVID-19 infection

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A recent study published in the journal “Allergy” found that there are seven “forms of disease” in COVID-19 with mild evolution and that this disease leaves behind significant changes in the immune system, even after 10 weeks. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from MedUni Vienna, led by immunologist Winfried F. Pickl and allergist Rudolf Valenta (both from the Center for Pathophysiology, Infectious Diseases and Immunology).

The research involved 109 convalescents and 98 healthy people in the control group, with whom the researchers were able to show that different symptoms related to COVID-19 appear in the symptom groups. Thus, they identified seven groups of symptoms:

  1. Flu-like symptoms (with fever, chills, fatigue and cough).
  2. Common cold-like symptoms (with rhinitis, sneezing, dry throat and nasal congestion).
  3. Joint and muscle pain.
  4. Eye and mucosal inflammation.
  5. Lung problems (with pneumonia and shortness of breath).
  6. Gastrointestinal problems (including diarrhea, nausea and headache).
  7. Loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms.

“In the last group, we found that the loss of smell and taste mainly affects people with a ‘young immune system’, as measured by the number of immune cells (T lymphocytes) that have recently migrated from the thymus gland. This means that we were able to clearly distinguish systemic forms (eg groups 1 and 3) from forms that affect specific organs (eg groups 6 and 7) of primary COVID-19 disease, ”says Pickl.

COVID-19 fingerprint in the blood

At the same time, scientists have determined that the COVID-19 virus leaves behind detectable long-term changes in the blood of convalescents, very similar to a fingerprint. For example, the number of granulocytes, which are otherwise responsible in the immune system for fighting bacterial pathogens, is significantly lower than normal in the COVID-19 group. Pickl explains: “However, both the CD4 and CD8 T-cell compartments developed memory cells, and the CD8 T cells remained strongly activated. This indicates that the immune system is still intensely engaged with the disease a few weeks after the initial infection. At the same time, regulatory cells are greatly diminished and it is likely a dangerous mixture that could lead to autoimmunity. ” More,

“Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the disease and help us develop potential vaccines, as we now have access to promising biomarkers and can perform even better monitoring,” the scientists said. “Above all, the study shows that the human immune system ‘doubles’ when defending against COVID-19 with the combined action of immune cells and antibodies and that cells are also able to memorize certain ‘movements’ from virus and respond to them. It is now a matter of implementing these findings and using them for the development of highly effective COVID-19 vaccines. ”

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