Reasoning Beyond the Respiratory

Blood clots.

Blood clots. Purple toes. Kidney damage. Heart inflammation.

While COVID-19 is widely known as a respiratory illness, its roster of mysterious symptoms is pointing researchers to a surprising possibility—what if COVID-19 only begins as a respiratory infection, but ultimately becomes one that infects the blood vessels?

A Lancet paper published in April found that SARS-CoV-2 can launch vicious attacks on the lining of blood vessels.

Such a virus would be “virtually unheard of,” writes Dana G. Smith—but it could help explain why comorbidities like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease are such big risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness. All of these conditions involve damage to the blood vessels.