The team from the University of Surrey identified what they believe to be a strong metabolic marker of COVID, a discovery that could lead to better understanding and treatment for people with symptoms of the disease months after diagnosis.
Blood samples from hospitalized patients showed that COVID-19 changed people’s metabolism. The team observed that the effects of COVID-19 changed over time, with the first wave inhibiting different metabolites from the second.
While the researchers observed that many patients’ metabolites returned to normal levels once they recovered from COVID-19, a small number remained inhibited for several months after infection.
“It is thought that about two million people develop symptoms of COVID-19 a month after infection, and 800,000 people still experience symptoms a year later. Therefore, it is clear that this virus will be there for some time. and therefore, the scientific community is duty bound to better understand COVID-19 and why, for some, symptoms take longer than average,” said lead author Holly-May Lewis from the University of Surrey .
The study analyzed blood samples from 164 hospital patients – 123 with Covid-19 and 41 who provided a negative PCR test – in the first two waves of infection. Two to seven months after infection, 19 positive patients also gave samples.
Using artificial intelligence models, the team identified six metabolites that can be used to identify COVID-19 with 91 percent accuracy.
“To our knowledge, it has been demonstrated for the first time that COVID-19 is now affecting the metabolism of patients differently than in the initial wave – which we believe is due to emerging variants. It is known that Different COVID variants have different associated symptoms, so it makes sense that this would be related to changes in blood chemistry,” said Professor Melanie Bailey from the university.
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