Scientists are finding long-lasting changes in the immune system in severe Covid 19 cases

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A small but significant study led by Steven Z. Josefowicz, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine, has found that severe cases of COVID-19 can lead to lasting changes in the innate immune system.

These findings may explain why COVID-19 affects multiple organs and why some individuals with long-COVID experience increased systemic inflammation.

Innovative technology

The study analyzed blood samples from 38 people who recovered from severe illness from COVID-19, 19 healthy people and other people who recovered from serious illness other than COVID-19.

Researchers also presented a new technique for harvesting and studying rare hematopoietic stem cells directly from blood samples, eliminating the need for bone marrow sampling.

Key Findings

stem cell changes: Researchers discovered changes in gene expression instructions in the blood-forming stem cells of people recovering from severe COVID-19 disease. These changes were hereditary and passed on to daughter cells.

monocyte production: These modified stem cells led to an increased production of immune cells, so-called monocytes.

Inflammatory cytokines: The monocytes of people who recovered from severe COVID-19 disease produced more inflammatory cytokines than those of healthy people or those with non-COVID-19 diseases.

long-term effect: These changes were observed up to one year after the onset of illness, although the small sample size did not allow for a direct association with health outcomes.

IL-6: A key player

The researchers hypothesized that an inflammatory cytokine called IL-6 might be central to these changes.

Experiments in mice and humans showed that blocking IL-6 early in the disease reduced altered gene expression in stem cells and the production of monocytes and inflammatory cytokines during recovery. This also resulted in less organ damage in mice.


Understand Long COVID: The study suggests that the changes in the innate immune system caused by SARS-CoV-2 may be of long duration, which explains the persistence of the symptoms in Long-COVID.

therapeutic ways: Findings about the role of IL-6 could lead to new therapeutic approaches to treat long-term inflammation in severe COVID-19 cases.

importance of vaccination: Findings underscore the critical role of COVID-19 vaccination in preventing serious illness and its long-term consequences.


Although more extensive studies are needed, these early findings provide important insights into how COVID-19 affects the immune system and why its consequences can be so severe and long-lasting.

The study may also pave the way for new treatments that target the mechanisms that lead to chronic symptoms and inflammation.

If you care about your health, please read studies showing that vitamin D can reduce inflammation and that vitamin K could reduce your risk of heart disease by a third.

For more health information, check out recent studies on new ways to curb excessive inflammation and the results showing that food can cause inflammation.

The study was published in the cell.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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