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Blood Vessel Attack Could Trigger Coronavirus’ Fatal Second Phase

Blood Vessel Attack Could Trigger Coronavirus’ Fatal Second Phase

Frank Ruschitzka told his pathologist to be ready before the first COVID-19 patient died. In early March, Ruschitzka, who leads the cardiology department at University Hospital Zürich, noticed that patients with the disease had strange symptoms for what was then thought to be chiefly a respiratory infection.

Many patients had acute kidney failure, organ damage, and mysterious blood clots. Several weeks later, the first body was autopsied: Tiny clots and dead cells littered the capillaries of the lungs, and inflammation had distended blood vessels supplying every organ in the body.

The pathologist had never seen anything like it. But the results showed Ruschitzka why his patients were suffering so much: The virus had targeted their blood vessels.

Since the Zürich team’s findings were published in mid-April, dozens of studies have revealed similar patterns of vascular damage in people who died of COVID-19. For example, a 21 May paper in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that the lungs of COVID-19 victims had nine times as many clots as those who died of the H1N1 flu.

Other studies have noted inflammatory symptoms in children and strokes in otherwise healthy young adults.

June 3, 2020

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