The deadly virus has been found to damage lungs much more severely than the seasonal flu virus, attacking the inner lining of blood vessels, according to a research by a local medical practitioner, Dr Retšelisitsoe Piti. He said a team of researchers compared the lungs of patients killed by COVID-19 with lungs of people who died from flu.
Both viruses, Dr Piti said belong to the same category and infect the respiratory system, causing multiple blood clots. “But the new coronavirus causes intensive damage to the inner linings of the blood vessels in the lungs,” he indicated.
As a result of the damage in the capillaries’ inner lining, he said the movement of carbon dioxide transported by the blood from which oxygen is extracted inside the lungs is blocked, causing shortness of breath, a distinctive symptom of COVID-19. He further noted that researchers also found the growth of new blood vessels in the lungs of coronavirus victims, adding that patients with COVID-19 showed widespread blood clotting as well as new vessel growth - the latter likely a result of the body’s response to the virus.
He said in most people, the coronavirus causes only mild symptoms, but in some, it leads to serious lung inflammation and excess of immune signalling chemicals. As he further explained, lung damage is not confined to people who need ventilation; more severe COVID-19 means more likelihood of damage.
Dr Piti said the damaged blood vessels lead to other conditions caused by the virus, including stroke and conditions like loss of smell. Like many viruses, he said the respiratory droplets associated with COVID-19 attach to the back of a person’s throat or nose and then move through the respiratory track then the human body responds to viruses by trying to fight them off, which causes inflammation. He noted that up to now, social distancing is one of the most effective means to fight the spread of coronavirus.