Authors: Pretorius E, Venter C, Laubshder G, Kotze M, Moremi K



We recognise that fibrin(ogen) amyloid microclots and platelet hyperactivation, that we have previously observed in COVID-19 and Long COVID/Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) patients, might form a suitable set of foci for the clinical treatment of the symptoms of long COVID/PASC. We first report on the comorbidities and symptoms found in a cohort of 845 South African Long COVID/PASC patients who filled in the South African Long COVID/PASC registry, of which hypertension and high cholesterol levels (dyslipidaemia) were the most important comorbidities. The gender balance (70% female) and the most commonly reported Long COVID/PASC symptoms (fatigue, brain fog, loss of concentration and forgetfulness, shortness of breath, as well as joint and muscle pains) were comparable to those reported elsewhere. This suggests that our sample was not at all atypical. Using a previously published scoring system for fibrin amyloid microclots and platelet pathology, we analysed blood samples from 70 patients, and report the presence of significant fibrin amyloid microclots and platelet pathology in all cases; these were associated with Long COVID/PASC symptoms that persisted after the recovery from acute COVID-19. A subset of 24 patients was treated with one month of dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) (Clopidogrel 75mg/Aspirin 75mg) once a day, as well as a direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) (Apixiban) 5 mg twice a day. A proton pump inhibitor (PPI) pantoprazole 40 mg/day was also prescribed for gastric protection. Such a regime must only be followed under strict and qualified medical guidance to obviate any dangers, especially haemorrhagic bleeding, and of the therapy as a whole. Thromboelastography (TEG®) was used to assist in determining their clotting status. Each of the 24 treated cases reported that their main symptoms were resolved and fatigue as the main symptom was relieved, and this was also reflected in a decrease of both the fibrin amyloid microclots and platelet pathology scores. Nine patients were genotyped for genetic variation in homocysteine metabolism implicated in hypertension, a common COVID-19 co-morbidity reported in both patients found to be homozygous for the risk-associated MTHFR 677 T-allele. Fibrin amyloid microclots that block capillaries and inhibit the transport of O2 to tissues, accompanied by platelet hyperactivation, provide a ready explanation for the symptoms of Long COVID/PASC. The removal and reversal of these underlying endotheliopathies provide an important treatment option that seems to be highly efficacious, and warrants controlled clinical studies.

Keywords: fibrin amyloid microclots, long COVID, PASC