mild COVID-19, and that the
novel coronavirus infection leaves behind significant changes in the
immune system even after 10 weeks, findings which may aid in the treatment of patients, and in the development of a potent vaccine.
The study, published in the journal Allergy, involving 109 recovered COVID-19 patients and 98 healthy individuals in the control group, showed that various symptoms related to COVID-19 occur in groups.
In the research, scientists, including those from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, identified seven groups of symptoms including “flu-like symptoms” with fever, chills, fatigue and cough, “common cold-like symptoms” with rhinitis, sneezing, dry throat and nasal congestion, and “joint and muscle pain”.
They said patients may also experience “eye and mucosal inflammation” symptoms, “lung problems” with pneumonia and shortness of breath, “gastrointestinal problems” including diarrhoea, nausea and headache, and “loss of sense of smell and taste and other symptoms”.
“In the latter group we found that loss of smell and taste predominantly affects individuals with a ‘young immune system,’ measured by the number of immune cells — T lymphocytes — that have recently emigrated from the thymus gland,” said Winfried F. Pickl, a co-author of the study from the Medical University of Vienna.
“This means that we were able to clearly distinguish systemic (groups one and three) from organ-specific forms (groups six and seven) of primary COVID-19 disease,” Pickl said.
From the analysis, the scientists established that COVID-19 leaves behind long detectable changes in the blood of recovered patients, very similar to a fingerprint.
Citing an example, they said 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.
“However, both the CD4 and CD8 T cell compartment developed memory cells and CD8 T cells remained strongly activated. This indicates that the immune system is still intensively engaged with the disease several weeks after initial infection,” Pickl explained.
According to the researchers, increased levels of antibody-producing immune cells were detected in the blood of recovered patients.
The higher the fever of the affected patient during the mild course of the disease, the higher were the antibody levels against the virus, they said.
“Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the disease and help us in the development of potential vaccines, since 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 up” when defending against COVID-19 with the combined action of immune cells and antibodies,” they noted.
According to the study, the immune cells are also able to memorise certain “moves” on the part of the virus and respond to them.
“Now it is a matter of implementing these findings and using them for the development of highly-effective COVID-19 vaccines,” the researchers said.
Coronavirus Can Get Children Worried: Here’s How To Have The Talk
In the wake of coronavirus, several schools and colleges have been shut in many parts of the world to contain the spread of COVID-19. As public awareness and conversations around the novel virus increase, the situation can get the children anxious and worried for their family members and friends.
Parents, family members, teachers, healthcare professionals and trusted adults play a significant role in helping children make sense of what they hear in a way that is honest, accurate and minimise their fear or anxiety.
Dr Sreenath Manikanti, Senior Consultant Neonatologist & HOD Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore shares a few tips to help make the corona conversation easier around children.
General Principles While Talking To Kids
– Children pick up cues from conversations you have with them and others
– Patiently listen to what they say, and allow them to ask questions
– Avoid using words that might blame others and lead to stigma
– Remember that the virus can make anyone sick. Avoid making assumptions about who might have COVID-19
– Pay attention to what children see, hear or read on television, radio or online
– Reduce the amount of screen time for children focused on COVID-19. Too much information on any one topic can lead to anxiety and worry
– Provide information to kids that is honest and accurate. Give information that is truthful and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child
– Talk to children about how some stories on COVID-19 on the internet and social media may be based on rumours and inaccurate information
– Teach chilren everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs
– Stay calm and keep information simple
– Reassure children that health and school authorities are working very hard to keep everyone safe and healthy
– Teach dos and don’ts at home, schools and play areas
– Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow, and then throw the tissue into a closed bin
– Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing, after using restroom, and before eating or learning to prepare food
– If soap and water are not available, teach children to use hand sanitiser
– Avoid coughing or sneezing into hands
– Avoid crowded places
– Avoid touching surfaces in public places and play areas unnecessarily
Points For Discussions About COVID-19
– COVID-19 is the short name for ‘coronavirus disease 2019’
– It is a new virus. Doctors are still learning more about it
– Recently, this virus has made a lot of people sick
– Doctors and scientists think that most people will be alright, especially kids, but some people might get very sick
– Doctors and experts are working hard to help people stay healthy