Long Covid victim discusses daily impact of virus
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Top scientists from the universities of Oxford, Cardiff, Sheffield and Manchester discovered the findings after comparing scans from three groups of people. The researchers used a novel xenon gas scan to detect abnormalities in the lungs of patients.
The group focused on 11 people who had not needed hospital care but noticed breathing difficulties later on.
As the research only involved a small number of subjects, ongoing work is underway to ascertain the severity of the problem on a larger scale.
The work adds to already conducted research that had focused on patients that had been admitted to care.
The results, according to the academics explain why in some cases of long-Covid, patients are complaining of shortness of breath.
Long Covid refers to a particular set of symptoms that can occur for weeks after having initially caught the virus.
The technique saw the University of Sheffield give subjects xenon gas to inhale during an MRI scan.
The gas shows up more prominently on the scanning device compared to Oxygen.
Results suggest that those suffering from Long Covid were displayed less effective gas transfer within their lungs than control patients.
Subjects that had been admitted to hospital displayed similar traits.
Lead researcher and lung specialist Dr Emily Fraser said it was frustrating having people coming into the clinic and not being able to explain to them exactly why it was that they were breathless.
Often X-rays and CT scans show no abnormalities.
She said: “This is important research and I really do hope this will shed more light on that.”
Speaking to the BBC she added: “It is important people know that rehabilitation strategies and breathing retraining can be really helpful.
“When we see people in clinic who are breathless we can make progress.”
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The study’s co-chief investigator, Prof Fergus Gleeson, said: “There are now important questions to answer, such as, how many patients with long Covid will have abnormal scans, the significance of the abnormality we’ve detected, the cause of the abnormality, and its longer-term consequences.
“Once we understand the mechanisms driving these symptoms, we will be better placed to develop more effective treatments.”
The paper is a pre-print and has not yet been through the formal process of peer review.
So far in the UK, 16.3m people have been infected with the virus.
Over 155,000 people have died as a result.
The UK today reported 89,176 new cases and 277 Covid-linked deaths.
That compares with 96,871 cases and 338 deaths recorded a day earlier.
Since early January, the number of confirmed Covid cases had been falling in the UK.
But in recent days, the caseload has plateaued, with daily tallies hovering at about 90,000 cases.
The UK has also led the way in the vaccine rollout process.
So far 138m doses have been administered, with 48.3m people fully vaccinated.
That equates to around 71.9 percent of the population.
Calls are now being made for the global North countries to share excess vaccines to the still 3bn people around the world still receive one dose.
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