Researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences recently discovered SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can relieve pain, which may explain why nearly 50 percent of COVID-19 victims experience few or no symptoms.
It is believed 40 percent of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic and that 50 percent of COVID-19 transmission occur before the onset of symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“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,” Rajesh Khanna, the study’s corresponding author, said. “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.”
Khanna is a professor in the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Pharmacology.
Viruses infect cells through protein receptors on cell membranes. The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein binds to the receptor neuropilin in the same location as a protein that plays an essential role in blood vessel growth and is linked to diseases.