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COVID autopsies reveal spread of virus through ‘whole body’: ScienceAlert

COVID autopsies reveal spread of virus through ‘whole body’: ScienceAlert

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COVID-19 is defined as a respiratory infection, but the effects of the novel coronavirus they are certainly not limited to any one body.

Dozens of recent autopsies show consistent evidence of 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,” I conclude the authors of the study, led by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In the past, autopsies of COVID-19 patients have shown preliminary signs of multiorgan dissemination with genetic remnants of a virus occurring in countless tissues, organs and fluids.

In July 2020 additional autopsies showed evidence of blood clots in nearly every vital organ of those who contracted 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 cellular resistance to SARS-CoV-2 in the human body.

The study involved 44 autopsies in which researchers carefully detected and quantified the level of SARS-CoV-2 messenger RNA in 85 sites and fluids. This genetic information is indicative of where the virus may have replicated during a person’s lifetime.

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

What’s more, some of the changes were evident within two weeks of symptoms first starting to appear.

Interestingly, while the lungs show the most inflammation and injury, the brain and other organs often show no significant tissue changes.”despite a significant viral load“.

The authors are not sure why this is. It is possible, 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, researchers found evidence that the lungs were less infected than at the beginning, while other sites did not show nearly as much improvement.

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

How the virus spread so far and wide is another mystery to be solved. Autopsies in the current study often showed no detectable viral residues in the blood plasma, suggesting that the pathogen may travel around in other ways.

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

The NIH study did not experiment with long covid specific to patients, but the results are relevant to possible treatment plans.

Antivirus, like Paxlovidfor example, it can help the human immune system clear viral cells from tissues, organs and fluids that would otherwise be hard to reach.

Perhaps, in turn, this can help reduce lingering symptoms.

“We hope to replicate the virus resistance data and explore the relationship with long-term COVID,” says one of the authors, Stephen Hewitt, of National Crab institute.

“In less than a year, we have about 85 cases and we’re working to expand that effort.”

The study was published in Nature.


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