Browse views: by Year, by Function, by GLF, by Subfunction, by Conference, by Journal

COVID-19 Autopsies Reveal Underreporting of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Scarcity of Co-infections.

Schwab, Nathalie, Nienhold, Ronny, Henkel, Maurice, Baschong, Albert, Graber, Anne, Frank, Angela, Mensah, Nadine, Koike, Jacqueline, Hernach, Claudia, Sachs, Melanie, Willi, Niels, Zsikla, Veronika, Junt, Tobias and Mertz, Kirsten (2022) COVID-19 Autopsies Reveal Underreporting of SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Scarcity of Co-infections. Frontiers in medicine, 9. p. 868954. ISSN 2296-858X


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mortality can be estimated based on reliable mortality data. Variable testing procedures and heterogeneous disease course suggest that a substantial number of COVID-19 deaths is undetected. To address this question, we screened an unselected autopsy cohort for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and a panel of common respiratory pathogens. Lung tissues from 62 consecutive autopsies, conducted during the first and second COVID-19 pandemic waves in Switzerland, were analyzed for bacterial, viral and fungal respiratory pathogens including SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 was detected in 28 lungs of 62 deceased patients (45%), although only 18 patients (29%) were reported to have COVID-19 at the time of death. In 23 patients (37% of all), the clinical cause of death and/or autopsy findings together with the presence of SARS-CoV-2 suggested death due to COVID-19. Our autopsy results reveal a 16% higher SARS-CoV-2 infection rate and an 8% higher SARS-CoV-2 related mortality rate than reported by clinicians before death. The majority of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients (75%) did not suffer from respiratory co-infections, as long as they were treated with antibiotics. In the lungs of 5 patients (8% of all), SARS-CoV-2 was found, yet without typical clinical and/or autopsy findings. Our findings suggest that underreporting of COVID-19 contributes substantially to excess mortality. The small percentage of co-infections in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients who died with typical COVID-19 symptoms strongly suggests that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients died from and not with the virus.

Item Type: Article
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2022 00:45
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2022 00:45


Email Alerts

Register with OAK to receive email alerts for saved searches.