LOCAL NEWS

Blood test could reveal risk of having long term health effects of COVID-19

Jan 26, 2022, 6:04 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:57 pm

SALT LAKE CITY— While long COVID-19 continues to cause medical problems for thousands of Utahns, new research suggested, a blood test could one day help determine a person’s risk for the perplexing condition.  

Today, there is no standard diagnosis or treatment for long COVID-19. There’s also no way to determine who is at risk for long COVID-19 before they catch the virus. But, if a blood test could determine that risk, researchers may also be able to develop treatments and that would be good news for patients with persistent post- COVID-19 symptoms. 

“Most days now I feel 90 to 95% better,” said Lisa O’Brien, one of Utah’s first long haulers.  

She has been experiencing a strange set of symptoms since March 2020. Some of them have been COVID-19 like symptoms, while other symptoms are unique.  

“Once or twice a week, I’ll wake up and feel like this really weird surge or internal vibration in my chest area,” she said. “My lips will tingle or vibrate when I eat certain foods.”  

She occasionally still feels fatigued and some days does not feel like getting out of bed for part of the day. She is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercises that she enjoyed before she got sick. 

O’Brien is no longer losing clumps of hair or experiencing drastic fluctuations in her heart rate. 

Lisa O’Brien is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercise that she enjoyed before she got sick.(Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien) Lisa O’Brien is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercise that she enjoyed before she got sick.(Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien) O’Brien is no longer losing clumps of hair or experiencing drastic fluctuations in her heart rate. (Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien) Lisa O’Brien is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercise that she enjoyed before she got sick.(Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien) Lisa O’Brien is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercise that she enjoyed before she got sick.(Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien) Lisa O’Brien is slowly starting to get back into hiking, and other exercise that she enjoyed before she got sick.(Used by permission, Lisa O’Brien)

“However, I am one of the lucky ones because I have a lot of friends who are two years into this now and they have not improved as much as I have.”  

She met those friends on the Utah Long-haulers Facebook group which she started in June 2020.  

That group now numbers 4,000 members and adds five to 10 new members each day, O’Brien said.  

“I’ve got some friends that have been out of work for two years and it’s changed their lives because the symptoms are so debilitating,” she said.  

New research finds that people who develop long COVID-19 have lower levels of certain antibodies in their blood shortly after being infected.  

Dr. Jeanette Brown works with long haulers as director of the Comprehensive COVID-19 Clinic at University of Utah Health.  

“This was a pretty well-done study,” Brown said. “They looked at 175 patients with Covid and followed them over a year.”  

Researchers watched the patients’ symptoms, developed a scoring system, and tried to predict from their immune responses who would develop post-COVID-19 symptoms. 

 “They felt like it was about 75% effective at predicting who is going to have persistent symptoms,” Brown said.  

If they can validate these findings with more patients, that could help researchers develop new treatments targeting symptoms of the long haulers. 

 “You can target potential therapies earlier, or identify those patients for research long term,” Brown said. “I think that’s how this could potentially help if it was validated.”  

And, potentially enable scientists to develop a blood test to predict who may get long COVID-19.  

That would be good news for O’Brien and the other long haulers who have joined her group. 

“If they can uncover the ‘why’, why are some people ending up like this? Then, that can lead us to the ‘how’, how do we treat this?” O’Brien said. 

Dr. Brown says it’s estimated that about 30% of those with COVID-19 may experience persistent symptoms. Early signs of which patients might be at highest risk would enable doctors to better understand what causes the condition. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

JR Johansen with his Uvalde portraits...
Dan Rascon

Utah artist delivers portraits to families of Uvalde shooting victims

A Utah artist recently took a life-changing trip to a small Texas town to make a special delivery for residents who are still recovering from a horrific mass shooting.
23 hours ago
Handcuffs in a jail cell FILE PHOTO (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...
Pat Reavy

Four teens looking for rival gang members charged in connection with triple killing at party

Four teen boys have been charged in connection with a gang-related shooting at a house party in West Jordan last year that left three people dead.
23 hours ago
A side by side of the two photos. (KSL-TV)...
Lauren Steinbrecher

Utah woman’s engagement photo pays tribute to grandmother’s love story at Bryce Canyon National Park

A Utah couple's engagement photo recreating the bride-to-be's grandparents at Bryce Canyon National Park 63 years later is going viral, with a beautiful love story behind it.
23 hours ago
Railroad crossing safety...
Katija Stjepovic

Bill to make Utah railroad crossings safer advances in House

As the beehive state continues to grow, more people are commuting, whether by car, train, or foot, we have seen more collisions on Utah`s railroads.
23 hours ago
The Provo Airport is beyond capacity, and plans are being made for increased service and more growt...
Alex Cabrero

New Provo Airport discussing expansion after year of rapid growth

A new airport in Provo is already at capacity and continually growing -- discussions of expanding and additional service are already underway.
23 hours ago
Inversion over Salt Lake City...
Jed Boal

UTA free fare year proposed to improve Utah’s air quality

The bipartisan Utah Legislative Clean Air Caucus unveiled several bills and appropriations Tuesday aimed at improving air quality in Utah.  
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Blood test could reveal risk of having long term health effects of COVID-19