Research Shows Why COVID Pneumonia Is More Deadly

TUESDAY, Jan. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Unlike regular pneumonia, COVID-19 pneumonia spreads like many “forest fires” through the lungs, researchers say.

This may explain why COVID-19 pneumonia lasts longer and causes more damage than typical pneumonia, according to researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

The research team said their goal is to make COVID-19 a bad cold.

For the study, the team analyzed immune cells from the lungs of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia and compared them to cells from patients with pneumonia caused by other viruses or bacteria.

While other types of pneumonia quickly infect large areas of the lungs, COVID-19 begins in many small areas of the lungs. It then uses the lungs own immune cells to spread through the lungs for several days or even weeks. This is similar to how several forest fires spread through a forest, the study authors explain.

As COVID-19 pneumonia moves slowly through the lungs, it leaves damaged lung tissue in its wake and contributes to fever, low blood pressure, and organ damage common in patients with COVID-19, the team said.

The long duration of COVID-19 pneumonia, rather than greater severity, may explain why it causes more serious complications than other types of pneumonia, according to the study authors. The report was published online on January 11 in the newspaper Nature.

Researchers have also identified immune cells – macrophages and T cells – that could be important targets in the treatment of severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Macrophages typically protect the lungs, but can become infected with the new coronavirus and help spread infection through the lungs, the team noted in a press release from the Northwest.

In a clinical trial earlier this year, researchers plan to test an investigational drug that targets these immune cells in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. The drug reduces the inflammatory response of these immune cells.

“Our goal is to make COVID-19 mild instead of severe, making it comparable to a bad cold,” study co-author Dr Scott Budinger said in the press release. He is chief of pulmonary medicine and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Study co-author Dr Richard Wunderink, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Feinberg and medical director of the Northwestern Medicine ICU, added that “this effort really represents a ‘moonshot’ in the research. on COVID-19. ”

More information

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Northwestern Medicine, press release, January 11, 2021

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