124 views | Akanimo Sampson | August 25, 2020
Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Center (ANPC) that is working with researchers at the University of Cambridge has developed a predictive metabolic model for COVID-19 infection that shows multi-organ effects.
This is coming as the presence of two or more long term health conditions—known as multi-morbidity—is linked to a 48% higher risk of a positive COVID-19 test.
While it is well recognised that the risk of a severe COVID-19 infection is linked to certain long-term health conditions, little is known, so far, about the effects of multi-morbidity and poly-pharmacy (taking multiple medications) on the risk of a serious coronavirus infection.
Now, a new study led by the University of Glasgow and published in PLOS ONE, is the first to link both multi-morbidity and poly-pharmacy with the risk of having a positive COVID-19 test.
This association was particularly apparent for those with two or more cardio-metabolic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Researchers found that the presence of two or more such conditions was associated with a 77% higher risk of a positive COVID-19 test.
Those of non-white ethnicity, who also had multi-morbidity, had almost three times the risk of a positive COVID-19 test.
Overall, people with multi-morbidity who appeared to have the highest risk of COVID-19 infection were from socioeconomically deprived areas, of non-white ethnicity, considered severely obese, and those with reduced renal function.
The researchers believe their findings will have implications for clinical and public health decision making as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues around the world.
Dr. Barbara Nicholl, from the University of Glasgow who led the study, says: “Multi-morbidity and poly-pharmacy are global healthcare challenges in their own right. Our study shows that having a positive COVID-19 test is more common in those living with these health conditions. These results will be important for public health and clinical decisions in the future as we continue to manage the health of those at greatest risk of a severe COVID-19 infection during this pandemic.”
Professor Frances Mair, the University of Glasgow Norie Miller Professor of General Practice and leading expert on multi-morbidity, says: “Given the high prevalence of multimorbidity, particularly in older age groups, the more detailed understanding of the associations between these complex health needs and COVID-19, as provided in this study, will improve our understanding of the risks and help us better advise those most vulnerable to severe infection.”
The study is based on UK Biobank data, which is now linked to COVID-19 test results, and included 428,199 adults aged 37-73 at the time of recruitment (2006-2010) across England and Wales.
However, Director of the ANPC, Professor Jeremy Nicholson, says “to effectively navigate the coming waves of COVID-19, we need to be able to accurately diagnose and predict severity of disease for infected individuals at an early stage so that they can be more effectively monitored and managed.”
Researchers collected blood plasma specimens from a group of Western Australian COVID-19 positive patients and a control group of healthy age and body mass matched participants to determine the key metabolic differences between the groups.
The samples were analyzed using state-of-the-art metabolic phenotyping technologies at the ANPC, which revealed a profound biological fingerprint of the disease that includes elements of liver dysfunction, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, and coronary heart disease risk. These have all been found to be related to the long-term effects in patients that were affected by the original SARS virus.
These fingerprints mark systemic changes in biochemistry and are irrespective of the time of collection during the active disease process and independent of the overall severity of respiratory symptoms.
“We still have to fully validate our tests before we can deploy them at the field level and that is why we are collaborating with the University of Cambridge to analyze large numbers of new plasma samples obtained from UK COVID-19 patients and this is now underway”, says Professor Nicholson.
“Perhaps the most important observation is that the disease involves multiple organs and the majority of the patients show signs of newly presenting diabetes and liver damage irrespective of the severity of the lung symptoms.
‘’Many of the metabolic features that we pick up are not part of routine clinical chemical testing and this has immediate patient management implications because these morbidities might be occurring under the radar of the current testing paradigms as they can be quite subtle.
‘’These emergent pathologies need to be managed at the same time as the acute respiratory problems to optimize patient recovery. What we do not know is how persistent these symptoms are or whether they change long terms disease risks for recovered patients.
‘’Detailed follow up studies on recovered patients at the state and national level will be crucial to our understanding of long-term disease risks.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria on Monday recorded 321 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.
With these fresh figures, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says the national tally currently stands at 52548 confirmed cases, and 1004 deaths.
According to the disease control agency, a total of 39257 COVID-19 patients have been discharged in 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Of the 321 new cases from 24 states, NCDC reports that Lagos logged 98 cases, followed by Abuja’s 34, Kaduna 30, Nasarawa 25, Benue 21, Plateau 17, Rivers 15, Adamawa 11, Ogun 11, Enugu nine, Edo eight, Delta seven, Ekiti seven, Gombe five, Ebonyi four, Bayelsa three, Kano three, Ondo three, Cross River two, Imo two, Kebbi two, Niger two, Abia and Bauchi one each.