Post-COVID condition is not linked to ongoing infection or active brain damage

Nov. 3, 2023
New research.

The condition that can follow the acute phase of COVID-19 infection, termed “Post-COVID condition,” or “long-covid” can persist for several months subsequent to the initial infection. The condition includes various combinations of fatigue, apathy, and difficulties with memory and concentration.

The current study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, included 25 people with confirmed post-COVID condition, six people without residual symptoms after COVID-19, and 17 control subjects who were completely free of COVID-19.

The strength of the study lies not in the number of participants, which is fairly limited, but in the fact that they all – including the control subjects – underwent not only blood tests but also the considerably more invasive procedure of lumbar punctures to collect cerebrospinal fluid.

At the time when the samples were taken, at least three months had passed since the first symptoms of COVID-19 in those who had had the disease. The samples were taken between February and November 2021, and were analyzed for a total of 37 different biomarkers.

Notably, the blood and cerebrospinal fluid analyses showed that SARS-CoV-2 antigens were undetectable in all samples. Additionally, there were no significant differences between the groups when analyzing blood and cerebrospinal fluid for immune activation or brain injury markers. The findings thus suggest that post-COVID condition is not the result of ongoing infection, immune activation, or brain damage.

University of Gothenburg release on Newswise