If you are suffering from Long COVID, then Prof Resia Pretorius from the Department of Physiological Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) would like to document your symptoms in a South African online registry. And if you are living in the Western Cape, she also wants a sample of your blood.
The main objective of the online registry is to establish the extent of the problem in South Africa. Other objectives include studying the long-term side-effects of Long COVID and accompanying co-morbidities; as well as its effect on blood clotting and circulating inflammatory molecules.
Long COVID presents as a collection of lingering symptoms, lasting 90 days or even more, after patients have recovered from acute COVID-19 infection. Lingering symptoms may persist in an estimated 25–35% of cases, regardless of infection severity and even after the individual no longer tests positive for the virus. Some of the Long COVID symptoms include fatigue, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath during daily tasks, joint pain and chest pain.
Prof Pretorius says individuals are invited to enter their symptoms and co-morbidities on the online Long COVID registry. Participants living in the greater Cape Town and Cape Winelands areas can also volunteer to donate a blood sample.
Prof Pretorius, in collaboration with Innovus, SU's Technology Transfer Office, has recently patented a method for the early identification of Long COVID. This method enables them to identify clotlets in blood samples that are resistant to the enzymatic breakdown of fibrin. As a specialist in the science of blood, blood clotting and inflammatory diseases, she also hopes to identify novel molecules in the blood that might cause fibrinolytic-resistant clotlets in blood. The presence of such molecules might 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
If you would like to support this research effort, please complete the online Long COVID registry at https://airtable.com/shrtucasatrINAL7K.
You will then also be asked whether you are prepared to donate a blood sample. (This option is only for individuals living in the greater Cape Town and Cape Winelands areas). Prof Pretorius plans to extend the blood collection to the rest of South Africa, as soon as grant or other funding opportunities allows for it. Participation is entirely voluntary and all information is encrypted and captured anonymously.
The title of the research project is “Long COVID Registry: A South African registry for long COVID and accompanying co-morbidities to study long-term effects on blood clotting and circulating biomarkers." The study has received ethical clearance from SU's Health Research Ethics Committee. Stellenbosch University is also part of the United States of America's Long COVID Alliance https://longcovidalliance.org/.
For further enquiries, contact the researcher and principal investigator, Prof Resia Pretorius, at email@example.com
On the photos above, red blood cell and platelet interactions in acute COVID-19 infection. Images: Resia Pretorius