HOUSTON, TX – Sophia Holton, a patient at the University of Texas Health Science Center, is being evaluated because she is still suffering from the effects of COVID-19 and has enrolled in a coronavirus biorepository.
According to Louise McCullough, MD, Ph.D., professor, and Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Chair in the Department of Neurology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, Holton was only hospitalized for seven days and need only a nasal cannula during her treatment, but now she even needs supplemental oxygen daily and still suffering other symptoms as well.
In May 2020, Holton developed a sore throat, loss of taste, exhaustion, and fever. During her hospital stay, Holton agreed to donate her blood to the COVID-19 biorepository. She had daily headaches after leaving the hospital, and her sense of smell and taste returned months later. Her oxygen levels are slowly improving, allowing her to do more.
Many other patients with more severe cases have no symptoms at all. To unravel the mystery, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) began building a large biobank of COVID-19 patients hospitalized during the pandemic.
They are analyzing blood samples taken from patients to determine if there is something in their immune response or another common denominator that may explain why these patients have a mild case of COVID-19 at first and then develop all of these disabling and lingering symptoms.
Being the first patient that followed by the biorepository in an entire year, Holton meets with the research team at intervals of three-month. “We know very little about COVID-19, but what we do know is that it has a very unique ability to cause long-term symptoms, or what we have termed ‘long COVID.’ Now, we are studying what puts a person more at risk for developing these long-term symptoms, and potentially find new treatments," McCullough explained.
“It might not help me, but I might be able to help the doctors discover something that could help the next person,” Holton said.
Holton hopes that being a part of the biobank will aid in unraveling the mystery of why some people recover quickly and without long-lasting symptoms, while others struggle even after the virus appears to have left their bodies.
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