There's a New Disturbing COVID Reaction That Scientists Just Discovered

Of all the horrific effects of the virus, this latest scientific finding might be the most shocking.

To say that COVID-19 has created unprecedented levels of pain and agony would be an epic understatement. The coronavirus can quickly deteriorate someone's health, bringing on a set of symptoms and complications that can wreak havoc on the body, sometimes lingering for weeks or months. But scientists have just discovered a disturbing new COVID reaction that goes completely against what you might expect: It appears the virus itself relieves pain in the body, making it more likely for an infected person to spread it along. Read on to learn more, and if you're worried you could have the virus, check out There's an 80 Percent Chance You Have COVID If You Have This Symptom.

According to a new study from the University of Arizona Health Sciences that was published in the journal PAIN on Oct. 1, researchers have found that patients may not feel the early onset of COVID-19 thanks to the shape of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Scientists believe the "spike protein"—AKA the now-infamous points that stick out of the virus in microscopic photos—blocks the body's pain receptors and prevents them from producing the signal that creates the sensation of pain.

"It made a lot of sense to me that perhaps the reason for the unrelenting spread of COVID-19 is that in the early stages, you're walking around all fine as if nothing is wrong because your pain has been suppressed," study author Rajesh Khanna, PhD, professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine's Department of Pharmacology, said in a statement. "You have the virus, but you don't feel bad because your pain is gone. If we can prove that this pain relief is what is causing COVID-19 to spread further, that's of enormous value."

Walking home after class, the young woman wears her protective mask because of the coronavirus epidemic.

While it may seem sinister that the virus is essentially tricking the body into not knowing it's been infected, the researchers point out that the study's results have the potential to bring a lot of good into the world.

Khanna says that the discovery shows the proteins are an incredibly effective pain killer and will allow for further research on safer, non-habit-forming drugs to treat aches and ailments in the future.

"We have a pandemic, and we have an opioid epidemic. They're colliding. Our findings have massive implications for both," Khanna says. "SARS-CoV-2 is teaching us about viral spread, but COVID-19 has us also looking at neuropilin as a new non-opioid method to fight the opioid epidemic."

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Unfortunately, our growing understanding of the virus is that overall, it brings far more pain to those it infects than it relieves in the end. And for more on how to avoid spreading COVID-19, check out This One Item in Your Junk Drawer Could Be the Answer to Stopping COVID.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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