Coronavirus infection causes long-term failures in the work of the immune system in patients who have been ill. This was reported by scientists from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. The research data is published on the medRxiv website.
Scientists studied the health status of 55 patients of different ages and genders who were ill with COVID-19 and found that their level of lymphocytes - blood cells responsible for immunity-decreased. Lymphocytes did not recover even at the 11th week after recovery, which, according to scientists, indicates a strong influence of the virus on blood cells and potential immune disorders.
Russian scientists confirmed to Izvestia that a coronavirus infection can lead to a decrease in lymphocytes. However, according to them, the mechanisms of loss of these cells are still poorly understood, and permanent loss of lymphocytes can be caused not only by chronic infections.
Pavel Volchkov, head of the MIPT genomic engineering laboratory, said that after a coronavirus, immune dysfunction can be long-lasting, but it is still reversible. When a person is infected with a new pathogen, lymphocytes expand in his body, and after infection, the body deactivates immune cells, which explains the fluctuations in their number. However, these fluctuations are quickly restored by new cells.
Other experts explained that COVID-19 can cause temporary loss of immunity, but is not able to lead to HIV or AIDS, because it cannot reproduce in immune cells. Nevertheless, a thorough study of the infectious process in the body of patients with coronavirus can provide important data on the development of a full-fledged immune response or difficulties in this process.
Some experts have already compared the new type of coronavirus with HIV and even talked about their similarity. In particular, the 2008 Nobel prize winner, French virologist Luc Montagnier claimed the laboratory origin of COVID-19 and that its genome contains elements of HIV. However, these ideas were later severely criticized by the scientific community. According to experts, HIV infection affects the cells of the immune system, while the coronavirus affects all organs and tissues. In addition, to date, there is not a single case of coronavirus that has passed from the acute phase to the chronic one.