Covid-19 is leading to research being initiated into many common viral infections that were previously ignored, lacked interest or funding, reports say.
Symptoms like a loss of smell, inflammation of heart, lungs, nerve damage and small blood clots in the lining of lungs are all not unique to Covid. Although small but a noticeable percentage of patients with other respiratory and viral infections suffer from these symptoms, the New York Times reported.
“Before the pandemic, research grants to study a loss of smell were hard to come by. It seemed like nobody cared,” Danielle Reed, associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research group in Philadelphia, US, was quoted as saying. But now, “there is an explosive growth of interest among funders”, Reed said.
“It was hard to get funding. Big journals or funders didn’t think it was interesting enough,” another researcher Marco Goeijenbier of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, was quoted as saying.
While conditions such as the inflammation of the heart muscle — myocarditis — affecting 1.5 million people worldwide has been much studied, its connection with fatigue — a prominent Covid symptom — was often unrecognised.
“The fatigue that sometimes follows a bout with Covid-19 might be caused by this heart problem,” Bruce McManus, Professor at the University of British Columbia was quoted as saying to the NYT.
Another is lung damage in severely-ill Covid patients. The condition can also be the result of viruses, the report stated.
“You can have lung injury and scarring with influenza, with herpes viruses and with cytomegalovirus infections, for example,” said Clemente Britto-Leon, a lung researcher at the Yale School of Medicine.
Blood clots in the lining of the lungs, again linked with Covid, can be the result of influenza, the report said.
“It happens when flu viruses infect the lower respiratory tract, an unusual event because most people have some preexisting protective immunity,” Marco Goeijenbier of Erasmus University in the Netherlands, was quoted as saying.