COVID-19: The long-term effects?

Posted 6 Dec 2020

Will COVID-19 have long-lasting effects on the immune system and long-term health? And are these effects related to the severity of the disease?

As a newly emerged virus, little is known about the long-term outcomes of COVID-19 patients and whether ‘dysregulation’ - or a breakdown in control – of the immune genes persists in recovered patients.

But Flinders University’s Professor David Lynn hopes a unique biobank of blood samples from recovered COVID-19 patients could help provide important new insights into the effects of COVID-19 on long-term immunity, or susceptibility to other infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Prof Lynn and his South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) based research team have received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to profile blood gene expressions at multiple time points during patients’ recoveries.

Blood samples will include patients who experienced mild, moderate, or severe COVID-19 to analyse the impact of disease severity on their long-term health.

“This extensive data will be thoroughly analysed using advanced systems immunology approaches and will have important implications for the millions of people worldwide who have recovered from SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection,” Professor Lynn says.

“Our previous research has shown that other serious infections, including Typhoid fever, can lead to the altered expression of a wide range of immune genes which persists for up to 12 months following infection.

“Long-term dysregulation of the immune genes may have important implications for responses to subsequent infections (COVID-19 or other) as well as responses to vaccination, and other impacts on long-term health by driving inflammation in a variety of systems and organs.”

“This research will have important implications for the millions of people worldwide who have recovered from the COVID-19 infection.”

Research category: COVID-19

Project title: Does COVID-19 infection lead to long-lasting perturbations of the immune system?

Lead researcher: Professor David Lynn


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