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April 14, 2024

Six months of recovery: how COVID-19 destroys immunity

Patients who have undergone COVID-19 suffer from immune dysfunction for a long time, scientists from Wuhan have found it. Doctors interviewed by Gazeta.Ru do not advise running to the pharmacy for pills, but the urge to give immunity to recover on its own – this may take up to six months.

Scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology have found that the coronavirus is causing a serious blow to the human immune system. Lymphopenia – a temporary or persistent drop in the level of lymphocytes in the blood – is one of the most common symptoms in COVID-19 patients, according to data published in a preprint of a scientific article. At the same time, as shown by the results of a survey of 55 people who recovered from coronavirus infection, the number of immune cells in their blood is not restored even several weeks after recovery.

People who have fully recovered for at least two weeks from COVID-19 are encouraged to consider plasma donation, which could save other patients’ lives. Only if they are willing to donate blood would COVID-19 convalescent plasma be obtained from recovered individuals. Individuals must have had a previous diagnosis recorded by a laboratory examination of COVID-19 and satisfy other donor requirements. Individuals must have full symptom resolution prior to donation for at least 14 days. In order to apply for a donation, a negative lab test for active COVID-19 disease is not mandatory.

“COVID-19 patients also displayed substantial phenotypic improvements in lymphocytes after 4-11 weeks of clinical rehabilitation. This suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infection deeply affects lymphocytes and leads to long-term potential dysfunctions, ”the study said.

As the academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the president of the NMITs DGOI them. Dmitry Rogachev, Alexander Rumyantsev, the coronavirus itself cannot reduce immunity – it rather disrupts the regulation of the body’s immune response, thereby causing a number of failures.

“During this infection, some of the patients who are suffering from the disease are faced with a cytokine storm. This is a powerful inflammatory response of the body, which is a pathological factor that causes the development of thrombosis, vascular inflammation, and other problems for vital organs. Naturally, after this there are consequences for the organism, which are now actively studied by scientists, ”said the doctor.

According to him, a certain amount of time must pass for objective conclusions about all the consequences of the coronavirus. Then it will become clear how much immunity suffers after the disease.

“Many things are connected not only directly with the coronavirus itself, but also with the process of its treatment. The same antibiotics, drugs that are used to preserve red blood cells – all affect the body. The system will recover itself – for this it needs at least six months. I think that by the end of autumn we will be able to see all the long-term consequences of both the infection itself and the treatment that severe patients were receiving, ”Rumyantsev emphasized.

Experts often compare the coronavirus with the human immunodeficiency virus. In particular, the 2008 Nobel Prize laureate, French virologist Luc Montagnier, announced the possible laboratory origin of COVID-19 and that its genome contains elements of HIV. However, the scientific community strongly disagreed with this idea.

COVID-19 is a virus that causes an acute and therefore short-term infection. To date, there is not a single case of coronavirus that would have passed from the acute phase to the chronic, that is, began to live in the human body, “said Pavel Volchkov, head of the MIPT genomic engineering laboratory, to Izvestia.

As the scientist clarified, this pathogen affects virtually all organs and tissues – this is due to the fact that the receptors on the surface of the cells to which it clings are located on almost all types of tissues. In this regard, cells of the immune system can also become infected, which can really cause their death.

However, in the case of coronavirus, restoration of the immune system is possible – even if it takes a long time. The slow response of the body may also be due to the fact that too many lymphocytes appear in the body during infection. However, then they simply become unclaimed and die by themselves.

“Once activated, immune cells do not live long and then disappear or become ‘memory cells’. This is what we call immunity. The system is designed in such a way that during the sending of soldiers-lymphocytes “to the reserve”, small fluctuations in their number can be detected. But then the failure will be restored by new cells, ”explained Volchkov.

Now experts are carefully studying the infectious processes in the body of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 in order to gain an understanding of the issue of developing an immune response to the virus. For their part, patients who have undergone coronavirus can help the body by observing the banal rules of caring for it.

“In general, the recommendations for maintaining the immune system, especially after viral infections, are the same. More fresh air, healthy sleep, proper nutrition. But most importantly, you need to reduce the amount of stress for those who have already had the coronavirus. They need to delve into this topic less, think less about it, “said Maria Polner, an allergist-immunologist, a member of the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology.

She emphasized that vitamins, which are certainly important for a weakened body, are best obtained from a balanced diet. However, if the idea still came to mind to take certain vitamin complexes, then it is better to consult with a specialist and initially identify the deficiency of specific substances that are lacking in the body.

“After a viral infection, a decrease in immune defense is quite common – some kind of secondary bacterial infections, herpetic eruptions appear. In general, I must say that the body needs to be given time to recover. I would not recommend any immunomodulatory and immunostimulating drugs in this case.

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