Scientists are starting to detect clots in long COVID patients’ smallest blood vessels—which might help explain the condition’s debilitating symptoms.
In 2021, physiologist Etheresia Pretorius at the Stellenbosch University in South Africa and her colleagues were the first to suggest that microclots may be linked to this debilitating condition called long COVID. In a follow-up study, she and her colleagues showed that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein triggers the formation of such clots, which the body’s natural clot-busting process doesn’t seem to break down easily.
This finding has led some scientists in the United States, with guidance from Pretorius, to test people with long COVID for microclots.
Photo: Micrograph by Anne Weston/EM STP, The Francis Crick Institute, Science Photo Library