Researchers in Boston say they may have made a big step forward in how to identify and diagnose long COVID, the sometimes debilitating condition that some people infected with the virus develop.
The findings from researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, posted Thursday ahead of being peer reviewed, suggest that COVID-19 may last in the body for up to a year — they were able to detect the virus’ characteristic spike protein in blood samples of more than half of 63 people who have long COVID.
“It gives us hope that we may be able to find some sort of therapeutic intervention that will be able to clear the virus and enable these patients to recover,” said Dr. David Walt, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher who served as the senior author on the preprint.
He cautioned that the findings are preliminary — they need to be reviewed and replicated — but, if they hold up, they could help identify people who have long COVID and point drugmakers to new ways to treat them.
The paper is available at MedRxiv.
Top Boston doctors talked about a recent study found that even mild cases of COVID can cause damage to the brain, a new study on long COVID and Pfizer’s vaccine documents on NBC10 Boston’s weekly “COVID Q&A” series.
Brigham and Mass. General are among the local hospitals looking for participants to help a national effort to study long COVID. The condition is not yet well understood — the term encompasses nearly 200 symptoms, ranging from chest pains to fatigue.