AIIMS experts say virus affects nearly all organs, patient classification system needs review

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said what we thought of as viral pneumonia has a lot of other manifestations which goes beyond the lungs

SARS-Cov-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, can adversely affect nearly all organs in a human body, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) experts have said, highlighting the need to revisit the present system of classification of cases into mild, moderate and severe categories based solely on respiratory symptoms.

AIIMS experts, including director Dr Randeep Guleria, were discussing various possible extra-pulmonary complications of COVID-19 during the weekly ‘National Clinical Grand Rounds’, as per a PTI report.

The experts who participated in the programme cited several cases wherein patients were labelled as asymptomatic or mild but went on to develop serious life-threatening extra-pulmonary manifestations like stroke and heart blocks.

Dr Guleria said that a lot has been learnt since the COVID-19 outbreak occurred in March and accordingly strategies are being changed from time to time. From what we thought of as viral pneumonia has a lot of other manifestations which goes beyond the lungs, he said.

“As we have known more and more about COVID-19, we have realised it causes many extrapulmonary manifestations. This is basically of the fact that this virus enters into the cell through ACE2 receptors which although are present abundantly in upper airways and lungs, they are also present in many organs and thus other organs are also affected,” PTI quoted Dr Guleria as saying.

We have seen many patients who presented with features which are not been predominantly pulmonary but extra-pulmonary manifestations, Dr Guleria added.

“What started off as viral pneumonia is now a multi-systemic disease. However, the jury is out whether SARS-COV2 is the culprit or just an innocent bystander which happens to be at the wrong place at a wrong time,” Dr Neeraj Nischal, Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine at AIIMS said, as per the report.

He further said that the classification of COVID-19 patients into mild, moderate and severe based only on respiratory symptoms should be “relooked into to incorporate other organ involvement”.

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