It was in December last year that the first cases of COVID-19 were reported from Wuhan Credit: Representational image

COVID-19 could be causing long-term damage to the lungs even up to three months after a person is no longer directly suffering from the disease, a study from Oxford University has revealed.

These findings help in shedding further light onto what has become known as ‘Long COVID’, a phenomenon that has been reported since the start of the pandemic yet little research was able to be carried out on it – until now.

A new scanning technique that uses xenon gas during an MRI to create more clear images of lung damage was tested on ten patients. They revealed that lung damage is shown by areas of the lungs where air is not flowing easily to the blood.

This study found of the ten patients – who were aged from 19 to 60 – eight of them reported shortness of breath and tiredness even three months after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

None of the patients required any medical care such as ventilation, hospitalisation, or intensive care and importantly, none of them had serious cases of the coronavirus either. There was also no damage to lungs as per conventional scans.

In light of these results, Prof. Fergus Gleeson, the person leading this work, has stated his plans to extend the trial to up to 100 people in order to compare their results – especially if they are reported to not have had a perceived mild case of COVID-19.

In long COVID, patients are thought to still not be fully recovered from the virus even months after they were cleared of being infected. Due to the nature of this pandemic and virus, new information is constantly coming to light as more research and tests help expand our understanding on how COVID-19 works.

Currently, the exact causes of a long COVID, as well as its potential impacts past the span of a few months, are relatively uncertain.

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