Deadly new Covid after-effect confirmed by scientists

Deadly new Covid after-effect confirmed by scientists
What If COVID-19 Never Disappears?
Underknown / VideoElephant

A deadly autoimmune disorder is on the rise in northern England, and scientists are now linking the outbreak to Covid-19.

The rare but life-threatening illness currently surging among the residents of Yorkshire is known as Anti-MDA5 positive dermatomyositis.

The condition is associated with a serious lung disease characterised by scarring of the organ’s tissue.

It is triggered by antibodies that attack an enzyme called MDA5 (melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5) – an RNA receptor that is key to recognising the SARS-CoV-2 virus, IFL Science reports.

Between 2020 and 2022, doctors in the region reported an unprecedented 60 cases of the disease, eight of which were fatal.

An international team of researchers have now analysed this spike in cases and noted that it coincides with major coronavirus waves during the peak years of the pandemic.

“Here we report a surge in the rate of anti-MDA5 positivity testing in our region (Yorkshire) in the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was notable because this entity is relatively rare in the UK,” the authors write in their study, which was published in the journal eBioMedicine last week.

This phenomenon, they argue, likely indicates “a distinct form of MDA5+ disease in the Covid-19 era,” which they have labelled “MDA5-autoimmunity and Interstitial Pneumonitis Contemporaneous with Covid-19” (MIP-C).

Anti-MDA5 is associated with a serious lung disease characterised by scarring of the organ’s tissue.(iStock)

By consulting a wide range of data, the experts discovered that patients with MDA5 autoimmunity tended to also have high levels of an inflammatory cytokine (a type of protein) called interleukin-15 (IL-15).

Commenting on this finding in a statement, one of the study’s lead authors, Pradipta Ghosh, explained that IL-15 "can push cells to the brink of exhaustion and create an immunologic phenotype (set of characteristics) that is very, very often seen as a hallmark of progressive interstitial lung disease, or fibrosis of the lung".

Of the 60 cases reported in Yorkshire, only eight patients had previously tested positive for Covid-19, suggesting that many may have had asymptomatic infections that they hadn’t been aware of.

Worryingly, this implies that even mild infections, that show no initial symptoms, may be enough to trigger MDA5 autoimmunity.

“Given the peak of MDA5 positivity testing followed the peak of Covid-19 cases in 2021, and coincided with the peak of vaccination, these findings suggest an immune reaction or autoimmunity against MDA5 upon SARS-CoV-2 and/or vaccine exposure,” the researchers concluded.

According to Ghosh, the concerning trend is unlikely to be restricted to Yorkshire, with cases of the autoimmune disease now being registered all over the world.

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