The very first autopsy done on a deceased coronavirus patient also reported as the first-ever time conducted the autopsy in India, revealed that the virus stays for 18 hours even after the death of the patient. Reports have stated that the autopsy was done on a 62y/o patient who dies two weeks after the treatment.
Forensics expert from the Department of Forensic and Medicine at Oxford Medical College and Research Institute, Dinesh Rao said that the virus samples were taken from the deceased’s mouth, throat, nose, the surface of the lungs, respiratory passages, and neck. An RT-PCR (Reverse transcription and polymerase chain reaction) which is a specific laboratory technique that combines reverse transcriptions of RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) into DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) and amplifies specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction. Primarily used to measure the amount of specific RNA. This test which is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing showed that the nose and throat samples were tested positive as active viruses.
To understand the effects of the virus on the human body and to evaluate if there was a need to update the treatment protocol of patients, Dr. Rao took up with this autopsy. In the case of the 62y/o patient, lungs were majorly infected by bacteria. With the effect of the virus, Dr. Rao said: “The patient’s lungs had turned leathery and gained in weight insignificantly. While lungs normally weigh around 700 grams, for the patient it weighed more than 2.1 kg and had turned into a leather ball which otherwise should be a rubber balloon.” There were blood clots in the deceased’s lungs and the air sacs were damaged, which indicated that thrombolytic therapy was needed before putting the patient on a ventilator.
Dr. Rao stated that there is a great need for research on how the novel coronavirus is affecting the human body and according to that, treatments and protocols should be modified, apart from only following the WHO guidelines. He also added that he didn’t get much cooperation from other for the autopsy process, also he wanted to conduct some other tests in order to understand the disease better.
What Dr. Rao discovered is unique compared to the findings of autopsies done on COVID-19 patients in the US and Italy. He suggested that the strains of the virus are different, the lungs turning inconsistent, and leathery was contrary to the usual effects of acute respiratory distress. The autopsy was done with the consent of the deceased’s family. All of his kin were at home quarantined at the time.