Among the greatest unknowns of COVID-19 is why the disease is so lethal for some people and so mild for others.
Although various hypotheses have been proposed to explain this fact, a team from the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Nanchang University in China has shown that there is a clear relationship between damage to organs and the amount of virus in the body.
This may seem obvious, but it is not. Viral load is not always related to the damage it causes, especially in coronaviruses. In fact, this was warned by the World Health Organization (WHO) at the beginning of the pandemic.
Usually, damage to internal organs does not have to be directly related to the amount of virus, but rather to how it acts on the cell, its speed, its ability to reproduce and which cells it preferentially attacks, among many other things. This study, however, confirms that there is indeed this direct relationship of more viruses, more damage.
In this sense, the authors have shown that viral load can be measured from a sample obtained with a smear on the throat, much faster and easier than one of blood, tissue or serum, something that opens new doors to treatment and, above all, early diagnosis and prevention.
In summary, the researchers have observed that the greater the amount of virus, the greater the damage to the organs and the lower the White Blood Cell (WBC) count, which is a measure related to the health of our immune system. In other words, the more viruses there are in our bodies, the consequences are more serious and severe, so healthcare professionals can more easily decide what to do in positive cases of COVID-19, such as in cases that test positive but have mild symptoms and are often returned home and are asked to remain isolated.
Link to the paper: https://doi.org/10.1089/vim.2020.0062
Editorial Disclaimer: information published during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be updated frequently to reflect the dynamic nature of current understanding.