If you’re living with long Covid, a Stellenbosch University researcher needs your help

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  • A professor at Stellenbosch University is studying the lingering symptoms experienced in some Covid survivors
  • Professor Pretorius is seeking 'long Covid' volunteers to complete an online registry
  • If you are in the Western Cape, she is also seeking a blood sample 

If you are suffering from ‘long Covid’, also known as post-Covid syndrome, Professor Resia Pretorius from the Department of Physiological Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) is looking to document your symptoms in a South African online registry.

In a press release by the university, the researcher said the main objective of the online registry is to establish the extent of the problem in South Africa. 

She will also look at the long-term side-effects of long Covid and accompanying co-morbidities, as well as its effect on blood clotting and circulating inflammatory molecules.

Different combinations of symptoms

Individuals can enter their symptoms and co-morbidities on the online long Covid registry. For those living in the greater Cape Town and Cape Winelands areas, Pretorius is also looking for a sample of your blood.

The condition is prevalent in some people who experience lingering symptoms more than 90 days after recovery from their Covid-19 infection.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with long Covid, also known as "long haulers", report different combinations of symptoms, including tiredness or fatigue; difficulty thinking or concentrating ("brain fog"); headache; loss of smell or taste; dizziness on standing; fast-beating or a pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations); and chest pain.

Early detection of long Covid

Pretorius said that these lingering symptoms may persist in an estimated 25–35% of cases, regardless of infection severity and even after the person no longer tests positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

In collaboration with Innovus, SU’s Technology Transfer Office, Pretorius has recently patented a method for the early identification of long Covid. And as a specialist in the science of blood, blood clotting and inflammatory diseases, the researcher also hopes to identify novel molecules in the blood that might cause fibrinolytic-resistant clotlets in blood. 

Knowledge of the presence of such molecules may eventually also be used for the early identification of long Covid and even in the development of successful treatment of individuals with lingering long Covid symptoms, she said.

Pretorius plans to extend the blood sample collection to the rest of South Africa, as soon as grants or other funding opportunities allow. She stressed that participation is entirely voluntary and all information is encrypted and captured anonymously.

The study has received ethical clearance from SU’s Health Research Ethics Committee. 

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

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