Infections can continue even after recovering from corona disease
Large Covid autopsy study finds virus throughout body
A large-scale autopsy study shows that Covid can affect not only the respiratory tract but the whole body. The virus was also detected after surviving an illness in the brain, the heart, everywhere in the body – which explains Long Covid.
Three years after the appearance of the corona virus, it is still not completely clear how Covid infects various organs beyond the respiratory system.
Daniel KestenholzEditor night duty
Conspiracy theories about Covid-19 persist even after the pandemic has weakened. A silent majority is vaccinated. Others continue to speak of some kind of flu. Loud Covid doubters warn that dangerous, insufficiently tested vaccines can be injected.
A first-time study is now doing away with the belief that Covid is more or less a pipe dream. In the most comprehensive autopsy tissue study ever, researchers have found traces of the Sars-CoV-2 virus throughout the human body, from the brain to the heart to the eyes.
The research, published in Nature, suggests the virus can cause ongoing infections in many parts of the body; Infections that can occur months after the initial illness and also explain Long Covid. According to the study, antiviral drugs would have to be developed to treat it.
viral load throughout the body
Three years after the emergence of the novel virus, scientists are still working to understand exactly how the virus interacts with the human body. A mystery remains how Covid infects various organs beyond the respiratory system. The US study published in December now wants to be able to prove that Sars-CoV-2 can cause a systemic infection in some patients and persist in the body for a long time.
As part of this study, conducted by US scientists, 44 patients who died of Covid-19 were autopsied. The study focused on taking tissue shortly after death from a variety of different body sites. Dissecting the brain and flash freezing fresh tissue allowed the researchers to detect the virus in cell cultures outside the respiratory system, including the brain.
Pathogen cells could be detected in 84 different places in the body, with the highest concentration in the airway and lung tissue. However, the virus has also been detected in the brain, intestines, heart, kidney, eye, adrenal gland and lymph nodes.
Body tissue endangered even after recovering from the disease
The tissue studied was from patients at different stages of infection, from the earliest stage – less than 14 days after the onset of symptoms – to nine months after the acute illness.
All autopsied cases were elderly, unvaccinated, and had multiple comorbidities. They were studied in the first year of the pandemic.
It is not clear whether new virus variants spread in a similar way among vaccinated, younger people. However, the study clearly shows that the virus can spread through tissues throughout the body, including the brain.