BENGALURU: Fifteen hours after the Covid-infected patient’s death, forensic expert Dr Dinesh Rao found no trace of the virus on the skin of the face, neck, or internal organs like the respiratory passage and lungs – the many swabs he took threw up nothing.
But an RT-PCR test found the virus lurking in the nose and throat. Dr Rao, head of forensic medicine in Oxford Medical College, carried out Bengaluru’s first autopsy on a 60-year-old male Covid victim, on Wednesday.
He found that the lungs, which are normally like a soft sponge ball, were more like a leather ball.
“Lungs normally weigh about 600-700 gm, but this Covid victim’s lungs together weighed 2.1kg, and the texture was leathery, not soft and spongy. There were blood clots and it was shocking to see what the virus had done to the lungs, “ said Dr Rao. The patient had suffered the infection for more than 14 days.
Studies have shown that the virus strain in India is different from what is seen in Italy or other parts of the world, for example, the way the virus attacks the lungs differs, Dr Rao said.
These findings will soon be published in a scientific journal, though a lot more research is needed to understand the disease better and reduce fatality rate, he added.
Asked if relatives could be allowed to touch the victim’s body, he said the virus appears to die too, but there is also rampant bacterial infection, and more research is needed in this area.
Having headed forensic medicine in Jamaica for many years, trained in Edinburgh and practised in the UK, Dr Rao said that forensic examination helps study the disease process.
A study of internal changes brought about in a human body by plague, malaria, HIV, ebola and other diseases allows doctors to understand it clinically, and treat the patient in a better manner.
Dr Rao, who togged up in a heavy-duty PPE kit with all precautions firmly in place, carried out the autopsy alone, simply because no one was willing to join him in his venture.