CORONAVIRUS is a “multi-organ killer” and some survivors “may never recover”, experts have warned.
Doctors in Italy – once Europe’s Covid epicentre – say that some have gone on to suffer “chronic damage”, even if they only had mild symptoms.
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People in Lombardy have experienced conditions such as psychosis, insomnia, kidney disease, spinal infections, strokes, chronic tiredness and mobility issues, after recovering from the bug, according to researchers.
They say some may find that their ability to properly work, concentrate, or even to take part in physical activities will be severely impaired.
And now doctors are warning that some of them may never recover.
It’s led them to conclude that Covid-19 is not just a respiratory disease, as once thought, but a “systemic infection” that affects all organs.
Dr Roberto Cosentini, head of emergencies at Papa Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo – one of the worst-hit areas in the world – oversaw the response.
He told Sky News: “At first, initially, we thought it was a bad flu, then we thought it was a bad flu with a very bad pneumonia.
“But, subsequently we discovered that it is a systemic illness with vessel damage in the whole body with renal involvement, cerebral involvement.
“So we are seeing other acute manifestations of renal failure that require dialysis; or stroke, and then acute myocardial infarction, so a lot of complications or other manifestations of the virus.
“And also now we see a significant proportion of the population with chronic damage from the virus.”
He is now urging people to be aware that Covid-19 can affect the whole body in various ways – and that all age groups are vulnerable.
In particular, those who don’t consider themselves to be in a vulnerable group as they could be putting themselves at risk of life-changing illnesses.
Dr Cosentini stressed that social distancing, regularly washing your hands and wearing face masks is as important now as at the start of the pandemic.
His warning comes amid growing fears of a second wave of coronavirus in Europe – that could be even worse than the first.
Meanwhile, a separate new study, published today, revealed that more than half of patients hospitalised with coronavirus suffer heart damage.
Research from 69 countries showed that 55 per cent of 1,261 Covid-19 patients had abnormal changes to the way the heart was pumping.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), also found that around one in seven had evidence of severe dysfunction.
Separate research by King’s College London has found immunity to the virus in recovered patients may only last a few months.
According to the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, immunity antibodies decrease significantly in the three months following infection, leaving patients susceptible to reinfection year after year – similar to the common cold.
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In what is believed to be the first longitudinal study of its kind, researchers looked into the immune response of 90 patients and healthcare workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust.
While the analysis revealed a “potent” level of antibodies could be found in 60% of participants while at the peak of their battle with coronavirus, sequential blood tests showed only 17 per cent sustained that same level of potency three months later.
Antibodies decreased 23-fold in some cases, and were depleted entirely in others.