After months of ambivalence, health officials place COVID-19’s death rate around six times that of a typical flu season.
Disease severity is more directly influenced by pre-existing conditions, age, and viral inoculum (the initial dose of SARS-CoV-2 one is exposed to upon transmission).
Tissue retrieved from patients who have succumbed to COVID-19 can provide further insight into the predictors associated with poor prognosis.
In a recent study published in The Lancet Microbe journal and conducted by researchers at the Imperial College of London, several key complications were determined to consistently precede COVID-19 mortality.
“Our work supports that something can be done to reduce risk of severe COVID-19,” Dr. Dipender Gill of the School of Public Health, Imperial College London explained. “Now, more than ever, it’s essential that campaigns highlighting the benefits of losing excess weight and stopping smoking remain central to public health strategies.”
The patient samples reviewed were additionally linked by symptoms.
In fact, all of the participants experienced fevers before diagnosis and at least two respiratory symptoms like a persistent cough and shortness of breath.
The majority of the pool died within three weeks of the onset of symptoms though not all of these were treated with the same therapeutics.
With respect to pre-existing conditions, high blood pressure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease appeared with the greatest frequency.
Less common were T-Lymphocyte Depletion (TLD) in the spleen and the lymph nodes, and haemophagocytosis which denotes immune over-activity that targets healthy cells.
Post-mortem analysis additionally yielded strong correlations with COVID-19 morality and early scarring of the lungs, kidney injury, and blood clots in at least one major organ (heart, lung, or kidney).
“Autopsy based analysis of COVID-19 for research is vital to learn more of this disease as the pandemic develops. We are extremely grateful to those who consented to this research and appreciate the advancement of medical science their generosity will bring,” the authors of their new report.
“As a result of our work, we have worked with colleagues at the Royal College of Pathologists to produce national guidelines for autopsies in COVID-19 patients and in anticipation of a possible second wave of cases we have put systems in place to rapidly facilitate further studies in the future and so further our understanding on the nature and cause of the disease, which we hope would lead to more effective treatments and fewer deaths.”
The most promising development provided by the researchers concerns clinical countermeasures.
Given how often circulatory complications compound COVID-19 symptoms, blood-thinning medication and the prevention of clots may save a lot of lives ahead of winter’s potential third wave of transmissions.
Dr.Gill, who previously indexed rising reports of comorbidities linked to COVID-19 death, seconded sentiments forward by the new report published in The Lancet Microbe journal:
“While it’s already known that smoking and obesity increase the risk of many serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, our findings highlight that the implications of smoking and obesity are exacerbated in the current COVID-19 pandemic.”