Two years into the pandemic, millions of people are living with long COVID-19, and there is still no proven treatment for the condition, Nature reported Aug. 9.
A key hurdle researchers must still overcome on the quest to find a long COVID-19 treatment is understanding the root cause — or causes — of the condition. The three leading hypotheses are that:
- The virus lingers in some people’s bodies, stimulating a reaction from the immune system that causes symptoms.
- Antibodies generated by the infection mistakenly attack the body’s own proteins.
- The virus may cause tiny blood clots that block the flow of oxygen to the body’s tissues.
With no proven treatment available, physicians and long COVID-19 patients are left to experiment with medications and rehabilitation therapies to address a patchwork of changing symptoms, including fatigue and brain fog.
“If you look at long COVID at this moment in time, I’d paint a slightly ‘Wild West’ and desperate picture really,” Danny Altmann, an immunologist at Imperial College London, told Nature.
More than 25 clinical trials are currently underway assessing potential therapies for long COVID-19, though many are small or weren’t designed with control groups to offer definitive results. Yet researchers are hopeful that results from several key studies slated to wrap up in the next year could pave the way for new treatments.
“I’m still optimistic,” Mr. Altmann told Nature. “The right stuff is going on, and there’s a fair amount of funding out there. Something is going to give.”
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