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German scientists have found a new side effect of COVID-19

German scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Biomolecular Medicine and the Wilhelm University of Westphalia have found out that coronavirus can have an extremely negative effect on vision. The results of the study are published by the online archive bioRxiv.

Scientists exposed mature retinal organoids to coronavirus. After that, they watched the activity of the virus and the rate of its replication for some time. The researchers concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 virus may infect and replicate in the photoreceptors and ganglion cells — neurons — of the retina, thus disrupting the conduction of the pulse from the retina to the central nervous system.

They also noted that infection with SARS-CoV-2 of retinal organoids causes a surge of interleukin 33 — a cytokine (information molecule) associated with acute COVID-19 disease and possible retinal degeneration. Experts suggest that the increased expression of cytokines is a consequence of the body's immune response to coronavirus infection.

It follows from the study data that antibodies produced by the use of antiviral drugs and vaccines are blocked by ACE2 receptors — they allow the virus to penetrate into the cell.

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