Richeldi: “30% of those cured of Coronavirus will have lung damage”


The picture comes from the digital meeting organized by the Italian Society of Pneumology (SIP) with StemNet, the Federation of Stem Cell Research Associations and the Italian Mesenchymal Stem Group (GISM). The expert alert emerges from the comparison between the data observed after pneumonia SARS 2003, ‘cousin’ of the one from Covid, and the first observational follow-up data from coronavirus survivors. There is a belief among pulmonologists that in patients who have remained in hospitals and intensive care for a long time, recovery of respiratory function is long-term and, in severe cases, it may not be complete. After Covid-19 infection the lungs are at risk for at least 6 months and 30% of those recovered will have chronic respiratory problems. Fibrotic outcomes, that is, the scar left on the lung by Covid-19, can cause irreversible respiratory damage and will constitute a new pathology of tomorrow and “a new health emergency“, warns the pulmonologist Luca Richeldi, member of the Cts. It will therefore be necessary to equip and reinforce the Pneumologies.

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Lung fibrosis is at risk

Covid infection could therefore leave long-term consequences on respiratory function and sometimes irreversibly compromise it. Researchers and pulmonologists came to this conclusion by comparing the first follow-up data collected in our country and by Chinese doctors with the outcomes of patients affected by SARS in 2003. It is estimated that on average in an adult they can serve from 6 to 12 months for functional recovery, which for some, however, may not be complete. After Covid-19 pneumonia, therefore, permanent alterations of the respiratory function could be frequent but above all widespread signs of pulmonary fibrosis: the respiratory tissue affected by the infection loses its characteristics and its normal structure, becoming rigid and not very functional, leading to chronic symptoms and the need, in some patients, for home oxygen therapy. Pulmonary fibrosis could therefore become tomorrow’s danger for many Covid-19 survivors and make it necessary to experiment with new therapeutic approaches, specialists conclude, such as treatments with mesenchymal stem cells.


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