Some COVID-19 patients suffer lung and heart damage, but there’s encouraging news for these ‘long haulers’


Up until she fell ill with COVID-19, Yvonne Cassidy, a New York-based novelist, said she thought there were only three types of COVID: “The mild version, the version that put you in hospital and the version that killed you. I didn’t know there were others like me, stuck on a post-COVID plateau, not sick anymore, but not better either.”

Two months after being diagnosed with coronavirus, she found it difficult to even walk one block. “It turned out we were a group who had a name: We were COVID long-haulers. The Mayo Clinic and medical journals had published pieces about us,” she said. “We had support groups on social media. We even had a hashtag. We were frustrated and afraid.”

“With my doctor’s guidance I introduced a very slow five-minute jog into my already slow walking schedule. The first time I did it, my chest burned and I doubled over, hands on knees, gasping for breath,” Cassidy, who had toyed with training for a marathon, wrote in an essay for MarketWatch. And today? “The goal isn’t 26 miles. Today’s goal was 30 minutes.”

Cassidy was fortunate. Some younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy have had blood clots and strokes. Many “long-haulers” — COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection — report neurological problems including confusion, difficulty concentrating, heart and lung issues, fatigue, insomnia, plus loss of taste and/or smell.

“There is evidence now that the virus can directly attack heart muscle cells, and there’s also evidence that the cytokine storm that the virus triggers in the body not only damages the lungs, but can damage the heart,” according to John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology in the the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program.

“One thing we didn’t anticipate was that the virus seems to accelerate a great deal of scarring in the lungs,” he said in an interview with the university. “What we really fear is long-term shortness of breath that could extend anywhere from being very mild to severely limiting.” He found it “disturbing” that one report of CT scans of asymptomatic patients were left with some scar tissue.

Some of these symptoms can persist for months, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.” Most people recover completely within a few weeks, “but some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery,” it added.

“Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms,” the clinic added. “Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can damage many other organs as well. This organ damage may increase the risk of long-term health problems.”

Also see:Johns Hopkins scientists examining weird side effects of COVID-19 suggest one way coronavirus ‘gains a foothold in the body’

Yvonne Cassidy: ‘My chest burned and I doubled over, hands on knees, gasping for breath.’

Although COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage, there is some good news for these long haulers. There’s more evidence that such aftereffects improve over time, according to a paper by a team of researchers presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, which studied patients in a COVID-19 “hot spot” in the Tyrolean region of Austria.

Some 86 patients out of a sample of 150 people were scheduled to return for evaluation 6, 12 and 24 weeks after their discharge from hospital. During these visits, clinical examinations, laboratory tests, arterial blood analysis of oxygen and carbon dioxide, lung function tests, computed tomography scans and echocardiograms (on the heart’s chambers and valves) were carried out.

At the time of their first visit, more than half of the patients had at least one persistent symptom, predominantly breathlessness and coughing, and computer tomography or CT scans showed lung damage in 88% of patients. However, by week 12 after discharge, symptoms improved and lung damage was reduced to 56%.


‘The good news is that the impairment tends to ameliorate over time, which suggests the lungs have a mechanism for repairing themselves.’


— Sabina Sahanic, a clinical Ph.D student at the University Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria

“The bad news is that people show lung impairment from COVID-19 weeks after discharge; the good news is that the impairment tends to ameliorate over time, which suggests the lungs have a mechanism for repairing themselves,” said Sabina Sahanic, a clinical Ph.D student at the University Clinic in Innsbruck and part of the team that carried out the study.

The average age of the 86 patients was 61 and 65% of them were male. Unlike Cassidy, nearly half of them were current or former smokers and 65% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were overweight or obese. Eighteen (21%) had been in an intensive care unitÜ, 16 (19%) underwent invasive mechanical ventilation, and the average length of stay in hospital was 13 days.

The CT scans indicated that overall lung damage decreased from week 6 to week 12. Damage from inflammation and fluid in the lungs caused by COVID-19 was present in 74 patients (88%) at 6 weeks and 48 patients (56%) at 12 weeks. “We did not observe any severe coronavirus-associated heart dysfunction in the post-acute phase,” Sahanic said.

“The findings from this study show the importance of implementing structured follow-up care for patients with severe COVID-19 infection,” she added. “Importantly, CT unveiled lung damage in this patient group that was not identified by lung function tests. Knowing how patients have been affected long-term by the coronavirus might enable symptoms and lung damage to be treated much earlier.”

COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage but, but there is some good news for these long haulers. (Photo: Getty Images)

This study is also supported by an article for primary-care physicians that was published last month in the British Medical Journal. It said that around 10% of patients who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 remain unwell beyond three weeks, and a smaller proportion for months. This was based on a study in which people log their ongoing symptoms on a smartphone app.

This percentage, however, is lower than that cited in many published observational studies. A recent U.S. study found that only 65% of people had returned to their previous level of health 14 to 21 days after a positive test, which has been the case with people who like Yvonne Cassidy who no longer have the virus, but have the antibodies.

Dr. Dixie Harris, a pulmonologist at the Intermountain Healthcare hospital system in Utah, told MarketWatch that coronavirus long haulers suffer shortness of breath, fatigue, memory issues, and even depression, but she too said there is “improvement over time.” She added, “Things such as prolonged symptoms — fatigue, that kind of thing — [have] been reported in MERS and SARS.”

In a second presentation to the European Respiratory Society International Congress on Monday, Yara Al Chikhanie, a Ph.D student at the Dieulefit Santé clinic for pulmonary rehabilitation and the Hp2 Lab at the Grenoble Alps University, France, said that the sooner COVID-19 patients started a pulmonary rehabilitation program after coming off ventilators, the better and faster their recovery.

She studied 19 patients who had spent an average of 3 weeks in intensive care and 2 weeks in a pulmonary ward before being transferred to the Dieulefit Santé clinic. The lack of physical movement in addition to severe infection and inflammation, lead to severe muscle loss, she said. The muscles for breathing are also affected. Most were unable to walk when they arrived at the clinic.

They underwent a test to see how far they could walk in six minutes. At the beginning, they were only able to walk barely a fifth of that distance on average, but after three weeks of pulmonary rehabilitation, this increased to an average of 43%. That is obviously still far from normal, but supervised rehabilitation helped to increase their lung capacity.


‘The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain.’


— Yara Al Chikhanie, Ph.D student at Dieulefit Santé, a clinic for pulmonary rehabilitation

“The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain,” Al Chikhanie said. “Patients who started rehabilitation in the week after coming off their ventilators progressed faster than those who were admitted after 2 weeks.”

COVID-19 has now killed at least 890,064 people worldwide, and 189,114 in the U.S., Johns Hopkins University says. As of Labor Day, the U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,292,206). Worldwide, there have been at least 27,208,206 confirmed cases, which mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases.

AstraZeneca
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, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
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and partner Pfizer
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; Johnson & Johnson
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; Merck & Co.
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; Moderna
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with GlaxoSmithKline
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are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
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ended lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.

India has reported 4,204,613 COVID-19 cases, surpassing Brazil (with 4,137,521) as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind the U.S. India has a rate of COVID-related death per 100,000 people of 5.3 and a case-fatality rate of 1.7%. In contrast, the U.S. has a fatality rate of 57.7 per 100,000 people and a case-fatality rate of 3%.

‘The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain.’ (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)




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As schools reopen, scientists say some children could spread COVID-19 even if they already have the antibodies


As schools and colleges reopen across the country, scientists say social distancing remains a critical public-health response to COVID-19. New research released Thursday sheds more light on children who test positive for COVID-19, and the contagiousness of coronavirus. Children often remain asymptomatic or display very few symptoms, and the research also offers insights into the course of the disease at an important time for families and communities.

A study published in the latest edition of the Journal of Pediatrics finds that the virus and antibodies can coexist in young patients. “With most viruses, when you start to detect antibodies, you won’t detect the virus anymore. But with COVID-19, we’re seeing both,” says Burak Bahar, lead author of the study and director of Laboratory Informatics at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. “This means children still have the potential to transmit the virus even if antibodies are detected.”


‘Children still have the potential to transmit the virus even if antibodies are detected.’


— Burak Bahar, director of Laboratory Informatics at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The researchers reviewed an analysis of 6,369 children tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and 215 patients who underwent antibody testing at Children’s National between March 2020 and June 2020. Out of these 215 young patients, 33 tested positive for both the virus and antibodies during the course of the disease. Nine of those 33 also showed presence of antibodies in their blood while also later testing positive for the virus.

What’s more, researchers found that patients aged 6 years through 15 years old took a longer time (a median time of 32 days) to clear the virus, meaning that it had left their systems, versus patients aged 16 years through 22 years old (a median of 18 days). Females in the 6 to 15 age group also took longer to clear the virus than males: A median of 44 days for females versus 25.5 days for males. “We can’t let our guard down just because a child has antibodies or is no longer showing symptoms,” Bahar said.

The study also found that 25 days was the median time from viral positivity to negativity — the moment when the virus can no longer be detected; it took 18 days to go from viral positivity to seropositivity — or the presence of antibodies in the blood — and it took 36 days to reach adequate levels of neutralizing antibodies. These “neutralizing antibodies” are important in potentially protecting a person from reinfection of the same virus, the researchers wrote.

Four important caveats: Firstly, the study looked at a relatively small number of children. Secondly, the next phase of research will be to test whether coronavirus that is present along with the antibodies for the disease can be transmitted to other people. Thirdly, scientists need to explore whether antibodies correlate with immunity and, fourthly, they need to establish how long antibodies and potential protection from reinfection actually lasts. As such, Bahar reiterates the need for social distancing.

Related:Dr. Fauci: It’s ‘conceivable’ we’ll know by November if a safe, effective vaccine is coming

A separate study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that children can spread SARS-CoV-2, even if they never develop symptoms or even long after symptoms have cleared. It found a significant variation in how long children continued to “shed” the virus through their respiratory tract and, therefore, could potentially remain infectious. The researchers also found that the duration of COVID-19 symptoms also varied widely, from three days to nearly three weeks.

A recent systematic review estimated that 16% of children with a SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic, but evidence suggests that as many as 45% of pediatric infections are asymptomatic, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to other infections and noninfectious processes, including influenza, according to the CDC.


A separate study in JAMA Pediatrics said children may spread SARS-CoV-2, even if they never develop symptoms or even long after symptoms have cleared.

Under pressure from the teachers union to delay the start of the school year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that in-person classes will be pushed back until Sept. 21, 11 days later than planned. Remote learning, also originally slated to start on Sept. 10, will now commence on Sept. 16. Other countries have not fared so well with school reopenings. Israel, which also reopened schools this week, experienced outbreaks when it reopened schools on May 17.

Bahar also advised teachers and students to wear masks. To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, it may be preferable to use high-quality cloth or surgical masks that are of a plain design instead of face shields and masks equipped with exhale valves, according to an experiment published Wednesday by Physics of Fluids, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering fluid dynamics that was first established by the American Institute of Physics in 1958.

As of Sunday, the U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,262,989), followed by Brazil (4,123,000), India (4,113,811) and Russia (1,022,228), according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. California became the first state in the country to surpass 700,000 confirmed cases. COVID has killed 188,711 people in the U.S. Worldwide, cases are near 27 million.

AstraZeneca
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, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
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-1.19%

and partner Pfizer
PFE,
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; GlaxoSmithKline
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-1.38%

; Johnson & Johnson
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-0.64%

; Merck & Co.
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; Moderna
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; and Sanofi
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+5.09%

are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
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,
the S&P 500
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and the Nasdaq Composite
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ended lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.



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Gaps in the CDC’s eviction ban could leave some renters homeless, housing advocates say


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a historic nationwide ban on evictions, but ambiguous language in the order leaves open the possibility that renters could still be forced to leave their homes during a global pandemic, housing advocates say.

The CDC’s moratorium went into effect immediately when it was announced on Tuesday and will remain in place until Dec. 31. Altogether, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, the moratorium should protect some 40 million renters nationwide.

(For more information on how renters can access the protections provided by the CDC’s eviction ban, click here.)

The CDC’s order specifically prohibits people from being evicted from rental units for nonpayment of their rent. However, there are still a range of scenarios where a tenant could be kicked out of their home.

“The overall spirit of the order is designed to protect public health and keep people from being evicted except for reasons of misconduct,” said Eric Dunn, director of litigation at the National Housing Law Project. “But the order’s very ambiguous about how some of those situations would work.”

The moratorium carves out some exceptions for landlords: Tenants can still be evicted for engaging in criminal activity on the premises, threatening the health or safety of other residents, damaging the property or violating any other contractual obligation of the rent.

Read more: California eviction moratorium is ‘a real nightmare’ for renters to understand — here’s what you need to know

But it’s not clear what a landlord can do, for instance, if a renter’s lease is set to expire, but the property’s owner doesn’t want to renew with them. If a tenant were to remain on the property past the period of their original lease, they would technically be violating the terms of the contract, Dunn said, which would mean the landlord could technically still have the right to evict them.

“It leads to an absurd result,” Dunn said. “You’re in a Catch-22 where in order to comply with your lease to avoid being evicted you need to the leave the property.”


‘The overall spirit of the order is designed to protect public health and keep people from being evicted except for reasons of misconduct.’


— Eric Dunn, director of litigation at the National Housing Law Project

Also unclear is how the law applies for people without a formal lease agreement. This has become a concern in New York State in particular. The state currently has its own moratorium on eviction that covers people who have verbal agreements or month-to-month arrangements with landlords, protecting them from being evicted for not paying their rent in full.

Many people nationwide may also be subtenants who are not on the original lease and don’t have a direct relationship with the property’s landlord, or a lease may only have one of multiple roommates officially listed.

Additionally, the order explicitly exempts hotels and motels from abiding by its rules. Nationwide, though, many low-income individuals live in extended-stay hotels or motels as if they were apartments, Dunn said.

“A lot of people in different parts of the country don’t have written leases,” said Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in New York. “It’s just not clear from the order whether those tenants would be protected.”

The CDC’s order states that in cases where a state or municipality has its own eviction ban that provides as much or more protection as the national order, the nationwide moratorium will not apply. New York’s moratorium is set to expire on Sept. 30 — as a result, Davidson said she and other advocates are pushing for the state to extend its own moratorium given that it offers more protection.

Whether renters are safe to stay in their homes in these various scenarios not explicitly mentioned in the CDC’s directive will come down to judges. The national moratorium does not explicitly prevent eviction filings from occurring — though landlords who evict tenants who were covered by the moratorium could face criminal penalties including jail time if those people become sick with COVID-19.

“There will be courts all across this country all making this determination,” Davidson said. “It’s a big country out there with lots of different courts at every level. It would not surprise me that some places in this country would not want to follow a federal rule.”

Another concern is what might happen in a situation where landlords face foreclosure themselves. Many small landlords across the country are facing severe financial challenges as a result of tenants not being able to pay rent. Moratoria like the CDC’s order could make matters worse, because the policy was not immediately accompanied with extra funding for emergency rental assistance.


Many low-income Americans live in hotels and motels, but the CDC’s order exempts those businesses from the temporary ban on evictions.

During the housing crisis that preceded the Great Recession, many Americans suddenly faced eviction when their landlord went into foreclosure. Today, renters do have more protections. In 2018, President Trump signed into law a permanent extension of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. This law allow renters to remain in homes for at least 90 days or the remaining term of the lease if the property goes into foreclosure.

But after those 90 days, tenants could face significant challenges securing safe and affordable housing, particularly if they are unemployed or were unable to pay rent for many months because of the pandemic.

Ultimately, the CDC’s nationwide eviction ban is not a permanent solution, housing and legal experts said. “It does not actually prevent evictions — it delays them,” said Diane Yentel, CEO and president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “It buys some time for the actual solution, which is emergency rental assistance.”



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Renters in U.S. cannot be evicted through the end of the year due to coronavirus, CDC order states


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention implemented a temporary eviction moratorium through the end of the year, protecting U.S. renters from losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.

The CDC’s moratorium will apply to all rental units nationwide until Dec. 31 and goes into effect immediately, senior administration officials said of an unpublished CDC agency order. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a U.S. House of Representatives panel Tuesday that the moratorium would cover around 40 million renters.

A previous federal eviction moratorium created by the CARES Act ended in late July and only applied to federally-funded housing, including rental units with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae
FNMA,
-1.33%

and Freddie Mac
FMCC,
-1.78%

. The moratorium will apply to any state in which there is not already a more protective ban in effect, according to the order. Multiple states have eviction moratoriums in place, including California, which established new rules in a late-night vote Monday.

Renters will be eligible for the moratorium’s protection if they received an economic impact payment, or stimulus check, as provided for by the CARES Act. Therefore, single renters must earn no more than $99,000 a year, while couples filing jointly can earn up to $198,000 annually.


Around 40 million people will be covered by the nationwide eviction moratorium, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The order, which was shared ahead of being published in the Federal Register on Sept. 4, includes a declaration for renters to sign and give their landlord. Senior Trump administration officials said the form would be made available on the CDC’s website.

Renters must indicate on the declaration that they cannot afford to pay their rent in full and that if evicted they would become homeless or force to move into congregate housing. Renters also must be able to prove that they made an effort to receive government assistance and that they could not afford rent.

The moratorium does not absolve renters of paying the rent. That money is still due to landlords, and senior administration officials said that renters should still attempt to make partial payments when they cannot afford to pay in full.

Landlords will still be permitted to evict tenants in certain cases, such as instances in which the tenant has destroyed property or poses a threat to the health or safety of neighbors.

The moratorium builds on a previous executive order from President Donald Trump that directed the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC to determine whether halting evictions was necessary to contain the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

“In the context of a pandemic, eviction moratoria — like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing — can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease,” the CDC’s unpublished order said.

“President Trump is committed to helping hardworking Americans stay in their homes and combating the spread of the coronavirus,” White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern said during a briefing Tuesday.


‘While an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed.’


— Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Housing advocates said the move was “long overdue,” but called for more help to be provided to renters facing financial difficulties amid historically high levels of unemployment caused by the pandemic.

“As we have said for five months, the very least the federal government ought to do is assure each of us that we won’t lose our homes in the middle of a global pandemic: The administration’s action would do so and will provide relief from the growing threat of eviction for millions of anxious families,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“But while an eviction moratorium is an essential step, it is a half-measure that extends a financial cliff for renters to fall off of when the moratorium expires and back rent is owed,” Yentel added, while calling on Congress to pass another COVID-19 relief bill with at least $100 billion in emergency rental assistance. Previously, some lawmakers and activists called for a cancellation of rent during the pandemic.

Trump administration officials during Tuesday’s briefing said that renters and landlords would have access to emergency funds already in place, including billions of dollars in grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the $142 billion coronavirus relief fund from the Treasury Department.

Administration officials could not clarify whether the CDC moratorium would prevent eviction filings from occurring. Housing and legal advocates have raised concerns that landlords filed evictions against many people nationwide who should have been protected by the CARES Act moratorium.



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Johns Hopkins scientists examining weird side effects of COVID-19 suggest one way coronavirus ‘gains a foothold in the body’


It’s an odd side effect. But could it provide clues as to how coronavirus attacks the body?

Why do some people with COVID-19 lose their sense of smell? And what can be learned from that? Scientists studying tissue removed from patients’ noses during surgery believe they may have discovered the reason why so many people with COVID-19 lose their sense of smell, even when they have no other symptoms and, as a result, one way the virus enters the body.

In a study published in the European Respiratory Journal on Wednesday, the researchers found extremely high levels of “angiotensin converting enzyme II,” or ACE-2, only in the area of the nose responsible for smelling. The ACE-2 enzyme is thought to be the gateway that allows coronavirus to enter the cells of the body and cause an infection.


‘These results suggest that this area of the nose could be where the coronavirus is gaining entry to the body.’


— Dr. Mengfei Chen, a research associate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore conducted the study, led by Professor Andrew Lane, director of the division of rhinology and skull base surgery, and Dr. Mengfei Chen, a research associate. They used fluorescent dyes on the tissue samples to detect and visualize the presence of ACE-2 in the nose cells.

The study used these samples from the back of the nose of 23 patients, removed during endoscopic surgical procedures for conditions such as tumors or “chronic rhinosinusitis,” an inflammatory disease of the nose and sinus. They also studied biopsies from the trachea (windpipe) of seven patients. None of the patients had been diagnosed with coronavirus.

“This technique allowed us to see that the levels of ACE-2 — the COVID-19 ‘entry point’ protein were highest in the part of the nose that enables us to smell,” Chen said. “These results suggest that this area of the nose could be where the coronavirus is gaining entry to the body.” They found the most ACE-2 on the lining cells of the “olfactory epithelium” at the back of the nose where we detect smells.

In fact, the levels of ACE-2 in these cells was between 200 and 700 times higher than other tissue in the nose and trachea, Chen said, and they found similarly high levels in all the samples of olfactory epithelium. The ACE-2 enzyme was not detected on olfactory neurons, the nerve cells that pass information about smells to the brain.

“The olfactory epithelium is quite an easy part of the body for a virus to reach, it’s not buried away deep in our body, and the very high levels of ACE-2 that we found there might explain why it’s so easy to catch COVID-19,” Chen said. Lane added that this research may enable doctors to tackle the infection with antiviral therapies delivered directly through the nose.

Related:COVID-19 and 1918 flu have one depressing thing in common: exacerbating social and economic inequality

Many common respiratory infections, such as coughs and colds, can make us temporarily lose our sense of smell, said Tobias Welte, professor of pulmonary medicine and director of the Department of Pulmonary and Infectious Diseases at Hannover University School of Medicine, Germany. Welte, who was not involved in this study, said this study may reveal why that happens in so many patients.

It could also be one reason why COVID-19 is so infectious and, he added, this theory could potentially offer more effective treatments. “It suggests that the part of our nose responsible for smelling could also be the place where the coronavirus gains a foothold in the body. This finding will need to be confirmed, but it offers possible new avenues for treating the infection.”


Another study found evidence of direct viral damage to the olfactory system in two patients who died from COVID-19.

A separate study released earlier this month and published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery, a peer-reviewed journal, looked at the nasal cells of two patients who had died of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, and found evidence of direct viral damage to the sensory system used for smelling in patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.

As of Sunday, COVID-19 has now killed at least 808,716 people worldwide. The U.S. has the world’s highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (5,703,561) and deaths (176,808). Worldwide, confirmed cases are now at 23,421,944, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, which does not, for the most part, account for asymptomatic cases.

Some younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy are suffering loss of taste and/or smell, blood clots and strokes. Many “long-haulers” — COVID-19 patients who show symptoms for months after the initial infection passed — report neurological problems including confusion, difficulty concentrating, headaches, extreme fatigue, mood changes and insomnia.

Coronavirus update:The Dow Jones Industrial Index
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,
the S&P 500
SPX,
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and the Nasdaq Composite
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+0.41%

ended lower Friday. This week, the Federal Reserve minutes urged Congress for more pandemic aid, underscoring the challenge to the country’s economic recovery as the world anxiously awaits a COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca
AZN,
-1.38%
,
in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
BNTX,
+10.18%

and partner Pfizer
PFE,
+0.41%

; GlaxoSmithKline
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-0.93%

Johnson & Johnson
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+0.88%

; Merck & Co.
MERK,
-1.24%

; Moderna
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-2.00%

; and Sanofi
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-1.82%

are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.



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