New Study Identifies Higher COVID-19 Viral Loads in American Indians and Alaskan Natives
WASHINGTON, August 16, 2022 (Newswire.com) - A recently published article in Experimental Biology and Medicine (Volume 247, Issue 14, July, 2022) identifies a potential cause of disproportionate COVID-19 disease severity in certain racial/ethnic groups. The study, led by Dr. Douglas Jay Perkins, Director of the University of New Mexico Center for Global Health (New Mexico, USA), reports that hospitalized patients who self-reported as American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) had higher SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in peripheral blood and more severe COVID-19.
From the start of the pandemic onward, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected certain racial/ethnic groups, including American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations who have experienced high rates of infection, hospitalization, and mortality. Several studies have found that detection of SARS-CoV-2 in peripheral blood is associated with the development of severe COVID-19 and mortality. However, data are largely unreported for SARS-CoV-2 viral load dynamics and COVID-19 severity in some groups of patients.
In this study, Perkins and colleagues examined viral load dynamics and disease severity in a diverse cohort of hospitalized patients at the University of New Mexico Hospital. The group found that the strongest predictor of severe COVID-19 in the study population was the average viral load in peripheral blood. The AI/AN patients had comparable comorbidities to the other groups, yet more severe COVID-19, twice the length of hospital stay, and higher viral loads in peripheral blood during hospitalization. Self-reported race/ethnicity as AI/AN was the strongest predictor of elevated viral loads in peripheral blood. These findings show that detection of SARS-CoV-2 in peripheral blood is associated with severe COVID-19. The group is currently exploring novel treatment interventions that target SARS-CoV-2 in peripheral blood as a strategy for improving patient outcomes, especially in vulnerable populations.
Dr. Perkins said: "We are grateful to present findings that address the disproportionate COVID-19 disease burden in our American Indian brothers and sisters. It is our great hope that such findings can provide a scientific foundation to foster the development of improved prevention and treatment strategies for those most affected by COVID-19."
Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine, said, "Dr. Perkins and colleagues have presented clear evidence that the strongest predictor of severe COVID-19 in their patient cohort was SARS-CoV-2 viral load in peripheral blood. Further, they demonstrated that those who self-reported as American Indian and or Alaska Native had more severe COVID-19 and higher peripheral blood viral load. This provides a strong case for more frequent detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the peripheral blood being an important factor for more severe COVID-19 observed in epidemiological studies on American Indian and Alaska Native populations."
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Source: Experimental Biology and Medicine