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. 

“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

Utah's state Route 24 on June 23, 2022. (NPS)...
Larry D. Curtis

Flood watch over popular Utah recreation areas Sunday

A flood watch is in effect over central southern Utah, through Sunday night, as thunderstorms create potentially dangerous conditions.
12 hours ago
Hundreds of protesters marched in Provo for abortion rights....
Michael Locklear

Hundreds protest in Provo to demand abortion rights

A crowd of roughly 300 people gathered in Provo Saturday night to demand abortion rights.
1 day ago
A structure fire nearby the Rio Tinto Stadium. (Credit: Scott Jones)...
Michael Houck

Gymnastics business burns near Rio Tinto during RSL game

Sandy Fire crews battled against a 3rd alarm structure fire near the Rio Tinto Stadium during the Real Salt Lake game Saturday evening.
1 day ago
A head on crash between a pick-up truck and a car. (Credit: UHP)...
Michael Houck

Police: One man dead, one in hospital after a crash in San Juan County

One man is dead, and another person is in the hospital after a head-on crash in San Juan County, according to Utah Highway Patrol.
1 day ago
A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America(Photo by Mario Tama/Get...
Michael Houck, KSL-TV & Associated Press

Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Utah abortion ban

'We are forced into motherhood'; Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Utah's trigger law banning most abortions in the state.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO: Utah County Attorney David Leavitt is pictured at a press conference in Salt Lake City ...
Michael Houck

Utah County Commissioner clarifies ‘incorrect’ quotes used in Leavitt mailers

Utah County Commissioner Ameilia Gardner sent a statement clarifying a possible endorsement of Utah County Attorney David Leavitt sent to local residents.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Blood test could reveal risk of having long term health effects of COVID-19