Blood clots in people with severe Covid-19 linked to antibody response, new study finds

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  • Antibodies may be the reason behind blood clots in people with severe Covid-19.
  • The  study is based on lab research that cloned Covid-19 antibody sequences.
  • Blood samples of healthy people were compared with those with severe Covid-19.

As a result of antibodies that are meant to fight the virus, people with severe Covid-19 may develop blood clots in the lungs.

Findings published in Blood show how antibodies produced by our bodies to protect against Covid-19 are triggering increased platelet activity, potentially causing fatal blood clots in patients with severe disease. Platelets, or thrombocytes, are small cell fragments in the blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding.

Lab tests

The researchers took samples of antibodies of people critically ill with Covid-19, who were suffering from severe respiratory problems and increased incidences of blood clots. From the samples obtained, they formed a cloned sequence in the lab.

The study authors also took blood samples from healthy people and added the sequence of the antibodies to these samples and compared the outcomes.

Blood clot development

The findings of the preprint study show that inflammation and blood clotting in the lungs found in severe cases of Covid-19 may be caused by the antibodies that the body creates to fight the disease.

The study also found that when the cloned antibodies were introduced in a lab to blood cells taken from healthy people, there was an increase in platelet activity.

“Early on in the Covid-19 pandemic it was clear that the infection was causing an overwhelming immune response, including blood clotting, and that many of the more severe cases and deaths were related to this,” said co-author Nichola Cooper in a press statement.

The results also show that existing medications that help to treat immune system problems reduce or stop the cells from producing blood clots.

“Having been involved in early research around blood clotting related to inflammation, it occurred to me that the drugs we already use for other disorders could be easily accessible treatments for Covid-19. 

“We do not yet know how these drugs will work in patients, but our hope is that we can both inhibit the inflammatory response and prevent severe disease and blood clots. It is exciting to see our collaboration with Reading backing our theory already and providing a solid scientific basis for clinical trials,” Cooper explained.

The researchers are aiming to start a clinical trial.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | Covid-19: Eight-week gap between Pfizer’s first and second vaccine shot boosts immunity – UK study

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