COVID autopsies reveal virus spreads ‘throughout the body’: ScienceAlert

COVID autopsies reveal virus spreads ‘throughout the body’: ScienceAlert

COVID-19 is defined as an infection of the respiratory system, but the effects of the novel coronavirus they are certainly not limited to one organ.

Dozens of recent autopsies show persistent evidence SARS-CoV-2 throughout the body, including the lungs, heart, spleen, kidneys, liver, colon, chest, muscles, nerves, reproductive tract, eye and brain.

In one particular autopsy, remnants of the novel coronavirus were found in the brain of a deceased patient 230 days after they first started showing symptoms.

“Our data show that in some patients, SARS-CoV-2 can cause systemic infection and persist in the body for months,” conclude authors of a study led by researchers from the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In the past, autopsies of patients with COVID-19 have shown preliminary signs of multi-organ spread, with genetic remnants virus they appear in countless tissues, organs and fluids.

In July 2020 further autopsies showed evidence of blood clots in almost all vital organs of those infected with COVID-19.

New NIH research now replicates and confirms these results in more detail than ever before.

The researchers suggest that their latest findings are the most comprehensive analysis to date of the cellular persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in the human body.

The study included 44 autopsies, in which the researchers carefully detected and quantified the level of messenger RNA from SARS-CoV-2 in 85 locations and fluids. This genetic information indicates where the virus may have reproduced during a person’s lifetime.

From autopsies performed from April 2020 to March 2021, researchers found that elderly, unvaccinated individuals who died of COVID-19 showed abundant signs of SARS-CoV-2 replication in a total of 79 locations and body fluids.

Moreover, some of the changes were evident within two weeks after the first symptoms began to appear.

Interestingly, while the lungs showed the most inflammation and injury, the brain and other organs did not often show significant tissue changes.”despite a significant viral load“.

The authors are not sure why this is so. It may be, for example, that the human immune system is not as good at targeting these other sites compared to the lungs.

In the later stages of recovery from COVID-19, the researchers found evidence that the lungs were less infected than they were initially, while other locations did not show nearly as much improvement.

“Our results show that although the greatest burden of SARS-CoV-2 is in respiratory tissue, the virus can spread throughout the body,” researchers conclude.

How the virus spreads so far and wide is another mystery to be solved. Autopsies in the current study did not often show visible remnants of the virus blood plasma, suggesting that the pathogen may travel by a different route.

Understanding how SARS-CoV-2 spreads and persists in the human body could reveal a lot about why some patients suffer from long-term illness from COVID-19.

The NIH study did not experiment with long COVID patients in particular, but the results are relevant for possible treatment plans.

Antiviral drugs, e.g Paxlovidfor example, it can help the human immune system clear viral cells from tissues, organs and fluids that would otherwise be difficult to reach.

Perhaps, however, this can help reduce long-term symptoms.

“We hope to replicate data on viral persistence and study the relationship with long-term COVID,” he says one of the authors, Stephen Hewitt, of the National Cancer Institute.

“In less than a year, we have about 85 cases and we are working to expand those efforts.”

The study was published in Nature.


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