New test and treatments for patients with lingering COVID-19 symptoms

Finally, possible help for the more than 20 million Americans dealing with lingering symptoms of COVID-19. Known as long-haulers, many aren't sure if that's truly what they are suffering from, but now a simple blood test may provide much-needed answers, along with a treatment plan. 

Fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, and heart problems. These symptoms can mimic many problems, but now the mystery could finally be unfolding to discover if COVID-19 is behind them. 

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Dr. Bruce Patterson is the CEO of incellDX and is the former Head of Virology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

"What we were seeing is 60 and 90 days post-infection, that their immune system was still completely abnormal, but it was abnormal in a different way," he says. "It didn't resemble the immune system during acute COVID. So, what we did is apply machine learning and AI to over 150 biomarkers, and figured out that this was a unique entity, which of course we call long haulers or long COVID."

He and his company came up with a way to demonstrate what COVID-19 is doing to blood vessels months, even years, after diagnosis.

"We discovered there were persistently abnormal levels of immunoregulatory proteins, called cytokines, in their blood," Dr. Patterson explains. "These cytokines signal there was fire in your body affecting multiple organs and causing a wide array of symptoms. He also describes something called monocytes, with COVID proteins, acting like garbage trucks, gobbling up good cells and irritating blood vessels, causing major inflammation." 

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They took that information a step further to find already FDA-approved drugs to treat that inflammation, including a statin for the heart and a prescription used to treat HIV. 

"We analyze the data and make recommendations to their primary care physicians, who write the prescriptions for their particular drugs, that our algorithms basically choose, and it's very similar to what we do in cancer these days. You will not get a cancer drug in 2022 until you've had a test that says you will respond, your cancer will respond to this cancer drug, right? It's called precision medicine, and a big shortfall I see in the whole pandemic is the absolute absence of using precision medicine to decide how patients need to be treated," exclaims Dr. Patterson. 

He believes precision medicine can be life-changing for long-haulers. 

"If you don't have inflamed blood vessels that activate platelets and activate the clotting cascade, then you shouldn't have micro clots, that's the goal of how we try to approach therapy," states Dr. Patterson. 

He goes on to say that 10-30% of people who contract coronavirus, even asymptomatic or mild cases, are getting long COVID. 

"Most are very debilitated and there was an economic analysis saying that long COVID could cost the U.S. healthcare system between 1/4 and 1/2 a trillion dollars," says Dr. Patterson. 


The hope is fighting the disease correctly after the fact will lessen the painful economic side effects as well. 

The blood test is available online. They'll send a tech to your home to draw blood. He says the results are 90% accurate. Most insurance companies will cover the cost and now Dr. Patterson is working with legislators to try to get prescription costs to be covered as well.