A new treatment for Long Covid?

October 26, 2021

There was an interesting report on BBC news last week about a potential new treatment for Long Covid that is being assessed in Germany – where it has been used on just over 100 patients so far

The treatment (known as apheresis) is based on the fact that Covid can cause blood clots (micro-clots) and damage to the lining of small blood vessels and this may also be a causative factor in Long Covid

In very simple terms the treatment is rather like kidney dialysis in that blood is removed from one arm, cleansed of clots and other harmful components in a special machine, and then returned via the other arm

The BBC news report centred on Dr Asad Khan, a respiratory physician from the UK, who has had a severe form of Long Covid, along with PoTS, for almost a year, and who is being treated in Germany

Dr Khan has been a superb advocate for people with Long Covid and recognises the overlaps with ME/CFS – which are referred to in the report

Despite the important clinical and pathological overlaps between ME/CFS and Long Covid, there is no research evidence to indicate that the type of blood clotting problems found in Covid, and some people with Long Covid, are also present in ME/CFS

However, if this treatment does turn out to be effective it could have implications for ME/CFS – as it could also remove harmful immune system products such as autoantibodies and cytokines, which are relevant in relation to ME/CFS. My understanding is that one of the doctors in Germany is planning to assess its use in ME/CFS

These preliminary results obviously need to be viewed with caution – as we know that high expectations can be built up and then reversed, as we have seen with Rituximab

It was also disappointing to see that there was no expert opinion from a haematologist who has expertose in blood clotting and Covid

This treatment clearly needs to be validated and assessed in a proper clinical trial and I hope this can now happen

BBC report

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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