During a press conference yesterday, 24 June, Health director-general (D-G) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah discussed findings of lower immunity levels in recovered COVID-19 patients
Aside from complications affecting the lungs and hearts of critically-ill COVID-19 patients, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has discovered that recovered patients may also experience reduced immunity levels after three months.
Dr Noor Hisham explained that an individual's level of antibodies - proteins that protect the body against foreign substances - was found to have decreased months after recovery.
"If a person has low immunity, they are then susceptible to infections other than COVID-19," the Health D-G noted.
In partnership with the Institute of Respiratory Medicine, the MOH is currently conducting tests and check-ups monitoring the long-term effects of the novel coronavirus on patients
In particular, Dr Noor Hisham said that the ministry will be ensuring follow-up care for COVID-19 patients who were under categories four and five.
Category four refers to individuals who require oxygen, while category five patients are those who have to be supported with a ventilator.
Some of the long-term effects of COVID-19 includes lung complications and slower blood flow
According to Dr Noor Hisham, the SARS-CoV-2 virus typically attacks the lungs, causing a 'cytokine storm', which is the sudden and excessive release of pro-inflammatory proteins within the body. This could lead to organ failure and potential death.
The surge of these molecules could result in slower blood flow around the body, leading to increased chances of blood clotting, where the blood converts from a liquid to a gel state.
Dr Noor Hisham confirmed that, "There are two or three patients who have had this [phenomena] happen in their intestines and kidneys."
Doctors have been advised to use specific medication for treating lung-related issues and to prevent blood clotting
The Health D-G mentioned that dexamethasone, the anti-inflammatory steroid said to raise survival rates in critically-ill COVID-19 patients, should be given to those with pneumonia.
He added that low-molecular-weight heparin, commonly known as a blood thinner, can be used to prevent blood clotting.
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Dexamethasone may have improved survival rates for a substantial number of COVID-19 patients, but there are caveats: