An autopsy on a 68-year-old female COVID-19 patient’s body, who died on April 5 in a city hospital, has revealed that her vital organs – lungs, brain and kidneys – had been damaged extensively although she had tested negative on the 12th day. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death in this case was Acute Myocardial Infarction.
The autopsy, the second in the city, was done on April 7 by Dinesh Rao, who heads the Department of Forensic Medicine in Oxford Medical College and Research Institute. “We did the autopsy following a request from the patient’s son as he wanted to know the exact cause of death,” Dr. Rao said. The patient, who was admitted for three days, was advised home isolation despite her comorbidities – diabetes and hypertension. However, she developed respiratory complications after 12 days and was rushed to the hospital again when she tested negative. She died on April 5.
“Unlike in the first autopsy on a 62-year-old patient in October last year when RT-PCR swabs revealed the virus was active in the mouth, throat and nasal area 18 hours after death, the swabs from six regions in this second body were RT-PCR negative. But her lungs, brain and kidneys were extensively damaged,” he said. “She had developed lung fibrosis and together both the lungs weighed around 900 grams. The virus that had infected her brain and kidneys could not be detected by RT-PCR,” he added.
“Her comorbidities were the underlying causes, while COVID-19 was the main factor. The RT-PCR negative reports of the six swabs indicate the possibility of different mutated strains of the virus or the delay in postmortem sampling,” he said.
However, virologist V. Ravi, who is the nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka said RT-PCR tests used in India do not miss the U.K., Brazil, South Africa or the double mutant variants of the virus as they target more than two genes. “This autopsy shows that the patient dies of post-COVID-19 complications,” Dr. Ravi added.
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