COVID-19 Causes Irreversible Lung Fibrosis; Earlier Intervention Needed to Prevent
Autopsies show severe damage to COVID-19 patients' lungs and immune system, according to a doctor in Wuhan reached by the Global Times, who called for measures to prevent fibrosis of the lungs at an early stage of the disease.
"The influence of COVID-19 on the human body is like a combination of SARS and AIDS as it damages both the lungs and immune systems," Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in Wuhan, told the Global Times on Friday.
Peng said he had just talked to Liu Liang, a forensic specialist from the Tongji Medical College at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Liu's team has reportedly conducted nine autopsies on deceased COVID-19 patients as of February 24.
"The autopsy results Liu shared inspired me a lot. Based on the results, I think the most important thing now is to take measures at an early stage of the disease to protect patients' lungs from irreversible fibrosis," Peng noted.
If irreversible damage is done, other measures, like those to prevent patients from oxygen deficit, will not be of much use, he said.
Liu's team published a paper on an autopsy they conducted in the Journal of Forensic Medicine on Tuesday.
The paper said there was apparent damage to the patient's lungs. An excess production of mucus spilled out of the alveoli, indicating COVID-19 causes an inflammation response that damages deep airways and pulmonary alveoli.
He warned that the number of deaths may rebound as he knows many critical patients in Wuhan have held out for one month but are still in danger and could die anytime.