Apart from damaging lungs, coronavirus also affects kidneys, liver, heart, brain and nervous system, skin and gastrointestinal tract, a medical team of Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City said in a new report.
The medical team of the center in New York came up with the information in a review report published in the Nature Medicine journal.
Columbia University Irving Medical Center was flooded with patients that provided the medical team some real experiences. However, they collected reports from other medical teams around the world in this regard, they said.
The review by the doctors shows that the coronavirus attacks virtually every major system in the human body, directly damaging organs and causing the blood to clot, the heart to lose its healthy rhythm, the kidneys to shed blood and protein and the skin to erupt in rashes.
It also causes headaches, dizziness, muscle aches, stomach pain and other symptoms along with classic respiratory symptoms like coughing and fever.
Dr. Aakriti Gupta, a cardiology fellow at Columbia who worked on the review, in a statement, said, "Physicians need to think of COVID-19 as a multisystem disease."
"There's a lot of news about clotting but it's also important to understand that a substantial proportion of these patients suffer kidney, heart, and brain damage, and physicians need to treat those conditions along with the respiratory disease," she added.
According to the report, much of the damages wrought by the virus appear to come because of its affinity for a receptor — a kind of molecular doorway into cells — called ACE2.
Cells lining the blood vessels, in the kidneys, the liver ducts, the pancreas, in the intestinal tract and lining the respiratory tract all are covered with ACE2 receptors, which the virus can use to grapple and infect cells, the medical team said.
The medial team also wrote that "These findings suggest that multiple-organ injury may occur at least in part due to direct viral tissue damage."
The report also said the coronavirus infection also activates the immune system. Part of that response includes the production of inflammatory proteins called cytokines.
This inflammation can damage cells and organs and the so-called cytokine storm is one of the causes of severe symptoms, it said.
Dr. Mahesh Madhavan, another cardiology fellow, said, "This virus is unusual and it's hard not to take a step back and not be impressed by how many manifestations it has on the human body."
The researchers said blood clotting effects appear to be caused by several different mechanisms: direct damage of the cells lining the blood vessels and interference with the various clotting mechanisms in the blood itself.
Low blood oxygen caused by pneumonia can make the blood more likely to clot, they said adding that these clots can cause strokes and heart attacks or can lodge in the lungs or legs.
The researchers wrote that the virus affects the immune system, depleting the T-cells the body usually deploys to fight off viral infections. "Lymphopenia, a marker of impaired cellular immunity, is a cardinal laboratory finding reported in 67-90% of patients with COVID-19.”