Initial treatment with the initial variant of SARS-CoV-2, the viruses that produce COVID-19, the immune responses of 69 volunteers aged 20 to 80 years old are studied for six months. 47 people were recuperating from a moderate illness, six from a medium illness, and 13 from severe COVID-19 sickness.

A world-class scientific partnership has provided a critical understanding of the long-term immune response dysfunction induced by COVID-19.

Our Immune System Is Impacted By ‘Long COVID’

“The study found substantial dysregulation of immune cell numbers that were strongest at 12-weeks post-infection but was still evident in most cases for up to six months and potentially even longer,” Professor Lynn says.

The term long Covid refers to the symptoms or effects of coronavirus among patients for a considerably long period. Though one cannot be termed as infected still the organ functions get disturbed due to the infection and this continues for a long period say for a few months. Due to this the immune system of the body gets affected and hence one can be a victim of some more ailments also.

Our Immune System Is Impacted By 'Long COVID'

Plasma specimens were collected at 12, 16, and 24 weeks after infection to investigate immune responses, the activation of hundreds of proteins in the bloodstream, and about 130 various kinds of the immune system. The results are matched to those of normal people.

“By taking a deep dive into the immune cells in these patients, we’ve found some new players linked to the disease, and these may help understand why some people have more severe disease, or get Long COVID,” he says.

Professor Lynn, on the other hand, believes that these signs also are likely caused by changes in immunological systems and energy metabolism. There is a significant dysregulation of expression of genes, notably in regions connected to inflammatory, in combination with a rise in immunological cells and antibodies. Neural activity relates to the data encoded in DNA that controls how cells react to their surroundings.

“One could logically infer that this dysregulation is linked to the physical symptoms of Long COVID, however further research is needed to prove this,” Professor Lynn says.

Interestingly, the study found no link between the degree of illness as well as the frequency of immunological dysfunction following the illness. Except in individuals who had only mild infection, immunological instability was visible.

“At present, there are no treatments for Long COVID sufferers and as the world slowly transitions to living with COVID, we will need to find answers and better solutions to prevent and treat Long COVID in the years to come,” says Dr. BrankoGrubor-Bauk, Head of Viral Immunology Group and THRF Mid-Career Fellow at the University of Adelaide and Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research.

“The level of disease severity doesn’t translate directly to the level of immune dysregulation and we haven’t been able to find any patterns indicating that an individual’s age or sex is a differentiating factor governing differences in recovery. Clearly, there are other factors at play that need to be explored,” he says.

The research also adds to the growing body of data that persons who have been exposed to COVID-19 develop resistance to it. Professor Lynn, Professor Barry, and Dr. Grubor-Bauk collaborated on the research, which included an in-depth evaluation of a South Australian patient cohort called ‘COVID-19 SA’, which was established by Dr. Grubor-Bauk, Professor Michael Beard, and Lecturer Barry from the University of Adelaide in collaboration with Associate Professor David Shaw and Dr. Benjamin Reddi from the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The scientists will monitor the individuals for the next 3 years to see how their immune responses adapt over time.