Covid 19 Long Haulers and Autoimmune Disease
Long-Haulers and Autoimmune Disease – Where is the link?
First and foremost, what is a “long-hauler”? According to Mayo Clinic, a long-hauler is a person who suffers from symptoms of COVID-19 for longer than 2 weeks, and often, for several months after contracting the virus.
Long-haulers may suffer from symptoms such as: shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, pain, chest pain, memory, constant concentration problems, muscle pain, fasting, pounding heartbeat, loss of smell or taste, anxiety, depression, fever, dizziness when standing and worse symptoms after physical or mental activity.
As with any viral infection, the virus itself is not the disease. A person can contract a virus, which can then cause a disease. In the case of the coronavirus, a person contracts the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes the symptoms that we call COVID-19.
In the below image, we see the model of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The orange spike proteins are labeled. These spike proteins are the virus’s tool to attach
to human tissue. That tissue could be anywhere in the body—it could be the heart, the lungs, or any other tissue in the body. In teal, we see a “neutralizing antibody”—the body’s defense against the virus. These neutralizing antibodies latch themselves to the spike proteins, which then act as a barrier between the virus and the human tissue, preventing the virus from attaching to the tissue.
The second job of the neutralizing antibodies is to flag down the immune system to come and fight the virus. The immune system is acting as your body’s military, fighting off any threats, which are flagged by the antibodies.
The antibodies don’t only attach to the virus, however. The antibodies can sometimes attach to human cells, too, which creates confusion for the body’s immune system. The immune system can be a little fuzzy—it can’t recognize the difference between the human tissue and the virus; it is simply attacking wherever the antibodies have called it to attack. So, when those antibodies attach themselves to, say, a human heart, the immune system begins attacking the heart, which is what we call an autoimmune disease
This can happen with or without vaccination. Natural antibodies do the same job as antibodies delivered through a vaccine, so regardless of where the antibodies came from, if they attach to human tissue, the immune system will attack the tissue. This is why we are seeing long-haulers; the antibodies are hanging around and continuing to attack even healthy tissue, which will cause autoimmune disease.
Of course, this is not happening to everyone who has antibodies, but it is happening to a subpopulation. A study showed that the COVID-19 antibodies have strong reactions with many human tissues, including myelin basic protein (the immune system), transglutaminase 3 (the gut), transglutaminase 2 (skin), mitochondria, nuclear antigens (all nuclei), myosin (muscle), thyroid peroxidase (thyroid), and collagen. This means that if a body has antibodies against COVID-19, there is a possibility that it can also develop antibodies against any of these human tissues as well.
Consider this example.
Patient A has no antibodies for COVID-19. Patient A has not contracted the virus, and also has not been vaccinated against it.