A rampage through the body

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Science  24 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 356-360
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6489.356


The lungs are ground zero in serious infections by the novel coronavirus. But scientists and physicians are realizing that in the minority of people who become gravely ill, the disease's reach can extend to many organs including the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain. The virus' damage may be due to direct invasion of some organs. But a catastrophic, overzealous immune response to infection known as a cytokine storm is likely responsible for some patients' rapid downhill slide. And an increased tendency of the blood to clot, leading to strokes and other complications, also seems to be playing a role. This snapshot surveys the state of knowledge about how the coronavirus does its damage throughout the body—with the caveat that scientists' understanding is imperfect and changing fast.

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