Everything you need to know about fatal cases of COVID-19

Nearing COVID-19’s fatality peak means having a larger pool of severe cases to draw correlates from. 

A new study published in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has successfully identified several clinical similar sites linking fatal reactions to SARS-Cov-2 infection.

“The global death toll from COVID-19 virus exceeds 21000. The risk factors for death were attributed to advanced age and comorbidities, but haven’t been accurately defined,” the authors wrote in the new paper. “Medical records of 85 fatal cases of COVID-19 between January 9 and February 15, 2020, were collected. The information recorded included medical history, exposure history, comorbidities, symptoms, laboratory findings, CT scans, and clinical management.”

The researchers were not only able to determine the underlying factors that lead to acute COVID-19 symptoms, but they were also able to link onset symptoms with critical outcomes.

Retrospective analysis of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Wuhan, China, and Italy

According to the data, the majority of COVID-19 deaths occur as a result of multiple organ failure. Patients on ventilators do not receive enough oxygen in their bloodstream to sustain vital biological functions or combat accompanying effects of prolonged illness like inflammation, pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Between 30% and 40% of patients who experience ARDS do not survive

The median age of the patients involved in the new study who succumbed to COVID-19 was 65.8 years old and 72.9% were male. The common symptoms in cases that went on to become fatal were fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, and dyspnea (labored breathing).

“Early onset of shortness of breath may be used as an observational symptom for COVID-19 exacerbations. Eosinophilopenia may indicate a poor prognosis. The combination of antimicrobial drugs did not offer considerable benefit to the outcome of this group of patients,” the report continued.

Symptoms were not the only instructive element of case severity. Hypertension, diabetes and coronary heart disease were the most common comorbidities in the cases analyzed.

Eighty-one percent of patients who had low white blood cell counts at admission developed fatal cases of COVID-19. Complications associated with these predictors included respiratory failure, shock, ARDS, and arrhythmia.

Antibiotics were administered the most often for patients under intensive care, followed by antiviral therapeutics and glucocorticoid treatments.

As the disease has spread to other regions, the observations from these areas may be the same, or different. Genetics may play a role in the response to the infection, and the course of the pandemic may change as the virus mutates as well,” the authors conclude. “Since this is a new pandemic that is constantly shifting, we think the medical community needs to keep an open mind as more and more studies are conducted.”

Danish researchers from Aarhus University collaborated with scientists from the University of Siena for an independent study premised by the high COVID-19 mortality rates in Italy.

The researchers compellingly establish a correlation between air pollution and coronavirus-related deaths in two regions of Northern Italy: Lombardy and Emilia Romagna.

These areas evidence a mortality rate of 12%, which is considerably higher than any other impacted community (16,000 coronavirus deaths as of April 7th).

Lombardy and Emilia Romagna rank among the most heavily air-polluted areas in all of Europe. After reviewing air data collected by the NASA satellite Aura and comparing it with the European Environment Agency’s Air Quality Index, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna ranked as one of the most heavily air-polluted areas in the entire continent of Europe.

It stands to reason that turbulent air has a hand to play considering SARS-Cov-2 targets lung cells and damages the hairlike projections that keep our airways clear of mucus and debris.

The authors are quick to point out that the findings published in the journal Environmental Pollution do not wholly account for the disproportionately high mortality rates observed in the regions studied, but they should not be counted out—because at this stage nothing should be counted out.

“There are several factors affecting the course of patients’ illness, and all over the world, we’re finding links and explanations of what is important. It’s very important to stress that our results are not a counter-argument to the findings already made. At the moment, all new knowledge is valuable for science and the authorities, and I consider our work as a supplement to the pool of knowledge about the factors that are important for the course of patients’ illness,” says environmental scientist Dario Caro in a release.