This study shows 7 different ‘disease forms’ in mild COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found that there are 7 “forms of disease” in COVID-19 with mild disease course and that the disease leaves behind big changes in the immune system, even after 10 weeks.

These findings could play an important role in the treatment of patients.

In the study, the team tested 109 COVID-19 patients and 98 healthy people to examine various symptoms related to COVID-19.

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), and

7) “loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms”.

In the latter group, they found that loss of smell and taste predominantly affects individuals with a ‘young immune system’.

The team says they were able to clearly distinguish systemically (e.g., groups 1 and 3) from organ-specific forms (e.g. groups 6 and 7) of primary COVID-19 disease.

At the same time, the scientists established that COVID-19 leaves behind long detectable 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 much lower than normal in the COVID-19 group.

However, both the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartment developed memory cells and CD8 T cells remained strongly activated.

This shows that the immune system is still intensively engaged with the disease several weeks after the initial infection.

But the regulatory cells are greatly diminished – and that is likely a dangerous mix, which could lead to autoimmunity.

Furthermore, increased levels of antibody-producing immune cells were detected in the blood of convalescents – the higher the fever of the affected patient during the mild course of the disease, the higher were the antibody levels against the virus.

The findings show that the human immune system “doubles up” when defending against COVID-19 with the combined action of immune cells and antibodies.

The cells are also able to memorize certain “moves” on the part of the virus (Note: “memory”) and respond to them.

One author of the study is immunologist Winfried F. Pickl.

The study is published in Allergy.

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