High Virus Count in the Lungs Drives COVID-19 Deaths – Research

Collaboration Research Press Release – Microbial signatures in the lower airways of mechanically ventilated COVID-19 patients associated with poor clinical outcome. Nat Microbiol. 2021 Aug 31. doi: 10.1038/s41564-021-00961-5

Press Release

A buildup of coronavirus in the lungs is likely behind the steep mortality rates seen in the pandemic, a new study finds. The results contrast with previous suspicions that simultaneous infections, such as bacterial pneumonia or overreaction of the body’s immune defense system, played major roles in a heightened risk of death, the investigators say.

Led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and in collaboration with the Ghedin Lab, the new study shows that people who died of COVID-19 had on average 10 times the amount of virus, or viral load, in their lower airways as did severely ill patients who survived their illness. Meanwhile, the investigators found no evidence implicating a secondary bacterial infection as the cause of the deaths, although they cautioned that this may be due to the frequent course of antibiotics given to critically ill patients.

“Our findings suggest that the body’s failure to cope with the large numbers of virus infecting the lungs is largely responsible for COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic,” says study lead author Imran Sulaiman, MD, PhD, an adjunct professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Health.

Click here for the full article at NYU Langone.

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