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A roundup of some of the recent clinical research on the novel coronavirus and attempts to find drugs and vaccines for the virus-induced disease COVID-19 is as follows.

COVID-19 patients also experience symptoms half a year later.

According to results from a study in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus first appeared in late 2019, most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one symptom six months after becoming ill. There, doctors monitored 1,733 patients who between January, 2020 and May were diagnosed and hospitalized.

Six months later, 76% had at least one symptom, including exhaustion or weakening of the muscles, sleep issues, anxiety or depression. Most of those who were critically ill had recurrent lung problems and chest irregularities that could suggest organ damage, while 13% of patients whose kidneys usually functioned in the hospital later experienced kidney problems.

“We are only beginning to understand” some of the long-term effects of COVID-19, study coauthor Bin Cao from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing said in a statement. “Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving hospital,” highlighting the need for post-discharge care.

Interferon enhances proteins that refuse coronavirus entry

Researchers had feared that an experimental inhaled type of interferon being studied for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients would not have a limitation. A possible issue with interferon is that it raises the levels of a protein called ACE2, which is used as a bridge into cells by the current coronavirus.

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Researchers looked at cells that line the path from the nose into the lungs in test tube experiments and found that there are actually two types of ACE2 – the well recognized one and a short form that lacks the entryway used by the virus. Interferon raises the short form of ACE2 but not the longer form they discovered, suggesting that the virus does not seem to raise entry points.

“We were excited to discover a new form of ACE2,” Dr. Jane Lucas of the University of Southampton, who co-led the study reported on Monday in Nature Genetics, said in a statement. “We believe this may have important implications for managing COVID-19 infection.” An inhaled interferon from Synairgen Plc is being tested in late-stage trials.

Saliva viral load improves prediction of COVID-19 severity

The amount of the new saliva coronavirus may help direct the treatment of patients by doctors because it is a better predictor of the course of disease than viral load in swab samples obtained from the nose and back of the throat, researchers said.
 
They analyzed 26 mildly ill COVID-19 patients, 154 hospitalized patients and 108 uninfected people, including 63 who were seriously ill and 23 who ultimately died. Saliva viral load, but not nasopharyngeal viral load, was correlated with risk factors for COVID-19, such as age and sex, and with responses to the immune system.
 
In predicting essential disease and death, saliva viral load was also superior to nasopharyngeal viral load, the researchers published on medRxiv on Wednesday prior to peer review. Saliva contains inhaled germs that are expelled from the lungs by the defensive mechanisms of the body, Yale University co-author Akiko Iwasaki explained in a tweet on Sunday.
Therefore, the saliva viral load represents how well the virus produces copies of itself all the way through the respiratory tract, from the nose to the lungs, Iwasaki said, and not just in the nose and back of the throat.
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