The competition dealing in research, experimental development, and innovations concerning COVID-19 was launched by the Ministry of Health in the autumn of 2021, and its results brought millions to #brnoregion. Out of the 53 submitted proposals, three projects by St. Anne’s Hospital, one project by the Faculty of Medicine at Masaryk University, and one project by the Brno University Hospital succeeded. And another three successful projects were co-proposed by the Brno University Hospital.
We sat down with Milan Sova, Head of the Clinic of Pulmonary Diseases and Tuberculosis, to talk about one of the projects submitted by the Brno University Hospital. His team is currently working on a project entitled Predictive Biomarkers of the Seriousness and Responses to Therapy with the aim of identifying patients endangered by moderate or serious symptoms of the disease.
What’s the aim of the research?
We know that an overwhelming majority of patients avoid serious symptoms of COVID these days, so we’d like to find out how to identify those likely to experience its moderate or serious symptoms. In the future, we hope to be able to simply and quickly examine the patients and adjust treatment accordingly.
How are you going to find the biomarkers?
We’d like to find the necessary biomarkers in the blood, for example, either in the form of substances created in the body that affect some of its parts or hormones. We focus on genetics as well; when it comes to COVID, genetics matters a lot, so the project is going to evaluate patients’ genetic background as well.
How long is the project supposed to take?
The project we’ve won the grant for will take two years. We’ve been studying COVID since the spring of 2020, though, when the first groups of patients arrived to our post-COVID centres. The research has been ongoing, with the current project being just one piece of the puzzle we’ve been putting together.
What have you found out since 2020?
One of the major conclusions is the fact that, for most patients, clinical post-COVID changes eventually disappear. Patients believe, thanks in large part to the media, that COVID causes permanent issues, which simply isn’t true. Most of these issues disappear, especially the pulmonary ones. This, however, doesn’t apply to those with destroyed and scarred lungs. The “permanent” fatigue, however, mostly fades away.
And how would you describe the future of COVID?
Nobody knows for sure. As Woody Allen put it: If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans. Most scientists think, though, that COVID will tend to become a common, seasonal respiratory infection. And I don’t really think COVID will be a major problem this autumn.