By Lea Giandomenico
“This study gives us hope: it demonstrates scientifically that our disease is real, and it advances research on the long covid. »
She demonstrates that the immune system could be responsible for the symptoms of Covid long. And therefore advances research on this particular form of Covid-19.
Better recognition of the disease
For a long time, people with long Covid have been fighting for more recognition of their disease, “which is not just psychological, as some doctors could tell patients who were trying to understand their symptoms, at the start of the pandemic. »
Because the long Covid can have a heavy impact on daily life: the fault of various serious symptoms, and sometimes very varied from one patient to another.
“Personally, the disease affected my nervous system, the symptoms are therefore neurological. I have some tremorsneurological disorders, slurred speechconcentration, I can’t drive for more than five minutes for example…”, lists Matthieu Le Stage, also spokesperson for the After J20 association, Covid Long France association.
A link between the brain and Covid long
But concretely, what does this American study say? The researchers compared nine brains from patients who died of acute Covid and nine other brains from people without Covid. They discovered important differences between the two:
“On the people who died from Covid, no trace of the virus discovered in the brain, but antibodies produced in the presence of the virus which would have attached to the vascular walls of the brain and would have degraded them. Which leads to damage to neurons due to an inflammatory reaction” , abstract Jerome Larchedoctor of internal medicine in Montpellier and specialist in long Covid.
“Consider therapeutic solutions”
If research is still in progress, this hypothesis of a link between antibodies and the symptoms of long Covid is “very plausible, this notion is not new: other studies before have also made this observation”, declares Jérôme Larché, also referent physician for the care pathway for long Covids at the ARS (Regional Health Agency) Occitanie.
This discovery could give marbles to understand the cerebral attacks, but also the lungs of the disease.
What is important with this study is that it makes it possible to consider therapeutic solutions by finding how to counteract the activation of antibodies which form in the brain, and which are responsible for the neurological damage of patients.
Because for now, no therapy for long covid does not exist. “There, this opens the door to clinical trials, this study is already a fairly strong start to explaining the disease and opens up prospects. This will make it possible to move forward on therapeutic proposals. »
A good news for patients, therefore, who can expect to see progress in the treatment of their disease. “When studies like these are published, they scientifically prove that the symptoms of long Covid are very real, and are due to neurological damage”, explains Jérôme Larché.
This attests that this disease makes people unable to lead a normal life, and handicaps them on a daily basis. This undermines, once again, the psychosomatic theory of the long Covid, the one which confuses cause and consequence, and which says, to summarize, that this disease is “in the heads” of patients.
For Matthieu Le Stage, who has been suffering from Covid long since October 2020, the fact that more and more studies are flourishing on this disease is an element “which reassures: there is an evolution, until the very beginning of the pandemic, we basically told us that the disease was in our head. There, we prove to doctors who are still skeptical, because there are some, that something is really happening in our body. »
Even if the spokesperson for the association Après J20 regrets that many of these studies are foreign and that France is “behind” compared to other countries.
“In addition to a very broad spectrum of symptoms, we can have symptoms that accumulate and fluctuate, new ones that appear suddenly,” says Matthieu Le Stage.
These disorders range from redness on the skin to hearing loss, reduced visual acuity, loss of consciousness, or even digestive problems… In all, 203 symptoms have been identified.
On a daily basis, this illness severely affects the life of the former army instructor sergeant. At 44, he no longer works: too much fatigue on a daily basis, and too heavy symptoms.
Whereas previously he was very athletic, and in great physical shape, he sometimes has to move around in a wheelchair after having made too intense an effort. Whoever could string together “crazy days” before his illness saw “with the snap of a finger” his life suddenly come to a halt by catching Covid-19.
“It was violent and hyper painful, in every sense of the word. The pill still does not pass, ”laments Matthieu, who is starting to tire on the phone after 30 minutes of conversation.
” We’ll make it “
The impacts of such advances in research are multiple.
“This could lead to the recognition of long Covid as an occupational disease and a long-term illness. But also the census of people affected, as well as the establishment of multidisciplinary centers for the treatment of long Covid, with better reception and better care for patients. And finally, it allows us to inform about our disease, ”explains the spokesperson for the association for the aid of the sick.
With these initiatives, Matthieu Le Stage believes in improvements. “There are slack sometimes, that’s for sure. I know it will be a long fight, but we will get there. »
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