Psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, worry, perceived stress, and loneliness, before Covid-19 infection is associated with an increased risk of long Covid, claim researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The increased risk was independent of smoking, asthma, and other health behaviours or physical health conditions.
The study: To understand the linkages, the researchers enrolled more than 54,000 people in April 2020. At the beginning of the study, participants were asked about their psychological distress.
Over the following year, more than 3,000 participants tested Covid positive, and this group was further questioned about their symptoms and symptom duration.
The findings: The team found that any psychological distress before Covid infection was associated with a 32-46% increased risk of long Covid. It was also associated with 15-51% greater risk of daily life impairment due to long Covid.
“Distress was more strongly associated with developing long Covid than physical health risk factors such as obesity, asthma, and hypertension,” says Siwen Wang, a co-author of the paper published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Implications: “We need to consider psychological health in addition to physical health as risk factors of long Covid,” says Andrea Roberts, another co-author.
These results also reinforce the need to increase public awareness of the importance of mental health and improved access to mental health care for people who need it, including increasing the supply of mental health clinicians.
As new variants of SARS-CoV-2 continue to emerge, it is important to assess the cross-neutralising capabilities of antibodies naturally elicited during wild type SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Pursuing this line of thought, researchers from the Tel Aviv University, Israel, have demonstrated that two antibodies, TAU-1109 and TAU-2310, isolated from the immune system of Covid survivors are effective in neutralising all known strains of the virus, including Omicron, with up to 97% efficiency.
“According to our findings, the effectiveness of the first antibody, TAU-1109, in neutralising the Omicron strain is 92%, and 90% in neutralising the Delta strain. The second antibody, TAU-2310, neutralises the Omicron variant with an efficacy of 84%, and the Delta variant with an efficacy of 97%,” says Natalia Freund, a co-author of the study published in the Nature journal Communications Biology.
According to her, this might be related to the evolution of the virus. The infectivity of the virus increased with each variant because each time, it changed the amino acid sequence of the part of the spike protein that binds to the ACE2 receptor. This, she says, is where most of the antibodies were concentrated till now and were therefore less effective in neutralising the original strain.
In contrast, these two antibodies bind to another region of the spike protein – an area of the viral spike that for some reason does not undergo many mutations – and are therefore effective in neutralising more variants.
According to the team, this discovery may eliminate the need for repeated booster vaccinations and strengthen the immune system of populations at risk.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Sushmita Choudhury, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta Research: Rajesh Sharma