The University of Surrey team have identified what they believe are markers of the stable metabolism of Covid, a discovery that could lead to better understanding and treatment of people with symptoms of the disease months after diagnosis.
Blood samples from hospital patients show that Covid-19 has changed people’s metabolism. The team observed that the effects of Covid-19 changed over time, with the first wave interfering with metabolites differently than the second.
While the researchers found that many of the patients’ metabolites recovered to normal levels after recovering from Covid-19, a small number remained impaired several months after infection.
“It is believed around two million people developed symptoms of Covid-19 a month after infection, and a year later 800,000 people were still suffering from symptoms. So it’s clear that this virus will be with us for a while, and it’s incumbent on the scientific community to better understand Covid-19 and why its symptoms last longer than average in some people,” said lead author Holly-Mae Lewis of the University of Surrey.
The study analyzed blood samples from 164 hospitalized patients – 123 with Covid-19 and 41 with negative PCR tests – during the first two waves of infection. Nineteen positive patients provided samples two to seven months after infection.
Using an artificial intelligence model, the team identified six metabolites that can be used to identify Covid-19 with 91 percent accuracy.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that Covid-19 has been shown to affect a patient’s metabolism differently from the first wave – which we believe is due to an emerging variant.” Different variants of Covid show different symptoms, so it makes sense that this is related to changes in blood chemistry,” said Professor Melanie Bailey of the university.