Right now there’s little universal language for how doctors trace and treat the progression of the coronavirus and its impacts on the immune system.
Covid 19 cases can progress through a series of three stages.
The first two are when the body attacks the virus.
The third and more troubling stage is when the immune system goes haywire attacking the virus with such ferocity that it does far more damage than the virus itself.
Understanding these stages has major implications for how to treat patients.
As we start to think about treatments that we don’t over treat or under treat depending on which stage the patient is in.
In stage one which most patients will stay in is when the virus SARS Covid 2 attacks the host.
The virus enters into a cell by latching onto a protein called the ACE 2 receptor the most receptors are in the lungs and the intestines and so a person’s symptoms depend on where that virus establishes itself in a person’s body.
If the virus establishes itself in the respiratory tract you develop a cough.
In the gastrointestinal tract you develop diarrhea.
As the virus then replicates itself the human body’s immune system tries to stop it responding with virus specific antibodies and T cells.
Then you get this wave of what is called a cytokine storm which is a entire cascade of inflammatory factors that are designed to have a much larger amplitude immune response targeted at this particular virus.
That comes with much more severe symptoms as your musician really ramps up its response.
That’s when you start to see even more more breathlessness which progresses to hypoxia or low oxygen levels and can even progress the things much more severe like pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Stage 2 of Covid 19 Coronavirus
The second stage impacts about 20% of patients when the virus replicates so fast the immune system can’t get it under control before it’s it’s to the lungs.
They can become inflamed and that’s what causes breathing problems. This can happen if a large amount of virus infects the body.
So healthcare workers exposed to covin 19 patients. For example can have more severe infections
This can also happen more in vulnerable populations like elderly individuals because our immune systems decline with age
Immuno suppressed people are also more susceptible because another illness or medication can result in a weak or delayed antibody response.
The virus just grows unchecked if a patient progresses from the first 2 Stages.
The third stage is something scientist called the hyper inflammatory phase.
The body’s immune system begins to attack itself. The virus is not as active it’s still there but it’s the inflammation and the body’s response to the virus that starts to limit the Organ system.
Because the heart starts to become dysfunctional and the kidneys start to become dysfunctional and once it’s in a stage of multi-system organ failure.
That’s what kills people with this virus.
The stages system is starting to be adopted in hospitals in Spain and Switzerland as well as the US.
The research suggests that while stage 1 and 2 of Covid 19 where the virus is the enemy medications to prop up the immune system encounter the virus may be what’s needed.
In stage 3 what may be best is to actually suppress the immune system.
So try to stop it from going into a deadly overdrive.
For now the treatment the majority of Covid 19 patients still receive is still only caring for the as there is no cure.