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EuropePMC; 2020.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-323544


The coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection can lead to a series of clinical settings from non-symptomatic viral carriers/spreaders to severe illness characterized by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)1,2. A sizable part of patients with COVID-19 have mild clinical symptoms at the early stage of infection, but the disease progression may become quite rapid in the later stage with ARDS as the common manifestation and followed by critical multiple organ failure, causing a high mortality rate of 7-10% in the elderly population with underlying chronic disease1-3. The pathological investigation in the lungs and other organs of fatal cases is fundamental for the mechanistic understanding of severe COVID-19 and the development of specific therapy in these cases. Gross anatomy and molecular markers allowed us to identify, in two fatal patients subject to necropsy, the main pathological features such as exudation and hemorrhage, epithelium injuries, infiltration of macrophages and fibrosis in the lungs. The mucous plug with fibrinous exudate in the alveoli and the activation of alveolar macrophages were characteristic abnormalities. These findings shed new insights into the pathogenesis of COVID-19 and justify the use of interleukin 6 (IL6) receptor antagonists and convalescent plasma with neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 for severe patients.Authors Chaofu Wang, Jing Xie, Lei Zhao, Xiaochun Fei, Heng Zhang, and Yun Tan contributed equally to this work. Authors Chaofu Wang, Jun Cai, Rong Chen, Zhengli Shi, and Xiuwu Bian jointly supervised this work.