PEOPLE who've had coronavirus have been warned of a deadly side effect.
Millions who have had the bug have also come down with long Covid.
This is a condition – which in most cases will cause chronic fatigue and physical pain.
But experts have now warned that some are coming down with interstitial lung disease (ILD).
In its most severe form – the illness is fatal without the patient having to have a lung transplant.
ILD is a group of disorders that cause inflammation and make it hard for the lungs to get enough oxygen.
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The current strains of Covid that are circulated are descendants of the Omicron variant.
Scientists have previously found that this is a milder variant than those that came before, such as the Alpha and Delta variants.
Most people that are getting the bug are experiencing cold and like flu symptoms.
While cases have risen slightly recently, the mammoth roll out of vaccines across the country has helped prevent deaths and hospitalisations.
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Medics at the University of California San Diego used artificial intelligence to detect the condition.
Co-senior study author Pradipta Ghosh, MD, professor in the departments of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the university said: "We found that lung fibrosis caused by Covid-19 resembles idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), the most common and the deadliest form of ILD.
"At a fundamental level, both conditions display similar gene expression patterns in the lungs and blood, and dysfunctional processes within alveolar type II (AT2) cells."
They explained that AT2 cells play an important role in pulmonary function – which refers to how well your lungs work.
This includes the production of the substance that keeps lung cells from collapsing after exhalation and the regeneration of cells after injury.
"The findings are insightful because AT2 cells are known to contain an elegant quality control network that responds to stress, internal or external.
"Failure of quality control leads to broader organ dysfunction and, in this case, fibrotic remodelling of the lung," they added.
The team analysed more than 1,000 data sets of patients with various lung conditions.
Through this they were looking for inflammation and other changes.
It's important to note that the authors used a hamster model of Covid-19.
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Within this they confirmed the presence of issues in the lungs of those who had Covid.
The study was published in the eBioMedicine journal.
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