Can dead Covid-19 patients transmit virus? Result of AIIMS-Bhopal study by next week

By Anuraag Singh| Express News Service | Published: 24th September 2020 10:01 PM
Image of a medical worker wearing personal protective equipment wheeling a dead body. (Representational Photo | AP)

BHOPAL: Amid reports of dead Covid-19 patients being dumped out of fear of infection, a team of scientists at AIIMS-Bhopal is conducting research on dead patients to find out if they can actually infect others.

“We’ve taken the bold step of study via autopsies of the dead Covid-19 patients. We came through various reports of undignified burial and cremation of the Covid-19 patients. The entire world has gone paranoid with Covid-19 and even the kin of the Covid-19 patients are running away from the bodies of such patients after death.

"I posted on Facebook the challenge to the pathology and forensic experts at AIIMS-Bhopal to study Covid-19 patients' bodies to find out whether the fatal infection really spreads from dead bodies or not,” AIIMS-Bhopal Director Prof Sarman Singh said on Thursday.

While detailing the initial findings of the study, Prof Singh said “initial findings haven’t revealed the presence of the virus on the body’s surface or its multiplication on the body’s surface, which is in line with the scientific point of view. The primary findings of the histopathology and other analysis suggest that the vascular system is the worst hit by the virus. It consequently causes coagulation and leakage in blood vessels, which resultantly trigger thrombosis, finally causing the patient’s death. It’s also been seen that some patients who were already treated for Covid-19 died later due to lodging of thrombosis.”

There isn’t any evidence or record about dead bodies of novel Coronavirus patients’ spreading infection among healthy people. There only have been anecdotal references about people who attended funerals of Covid-19 patients, later turning positive for the same viral infection, but no evidence has been on record to establish that those people contracted the fatal infection from the dead body only, he said.

A seasoned microbiologist, Prof Singh said there is also a scientific reason as per which, while a bacteria can grow on the dead body (through the body’s flesh and blood), a virus is unlikely to grow from a dead body, when the process of cell multiplication in the body has stopped. “As a microbiologist, logically I don’t believe that the Covid-19 infection can be caused by a dead body. But still, I felt a detailed study was needed to find out and validate the truth.”

Subsequently, a team of microbiologists, forensic medicine experts, and pathologists accepted the challenge, and a study was then designed to conduct the autopsies. “Till now autopsies of 15 bodies have been conducted within a duration ranging between six to 12 hours of the death. In this study, we’re trying to find out those organs/parts of the body in which the deadly virus has been present even after the patient’s death.”

The study is focusing on comparing the viral load present in the patient, when the patient was alive and the viral load in the same body, 6-12 hours after the patient’s biological death. “We’re also trying to ascertain histopathologically to ascertain how the Covid-19 virus affects the various organs and parts of the body, including lungs, liver, pancreas, heart, intestines, and brain. The detailed results of this first of its kind study on dead Covid-19 patients in India will hopefully be out next week,” said Singh.

Tags : AIIMS-Bhopal Covid-19 dead Covid-19 patients

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