One odd thing about COVID-19 is that patients would show up at the hospital with really, really low oxygen in their blood despite having no trouble breathing. This study has an explanation: red blood cells getting killed, but with some subtlety.
Immature red blood cells form in the bone marrow. They have a nucleus and can’t transport oxygen. Mature red blood cells have no nucleus and can transport oxygen.
The study found that immature red blood cells have ACE-2 receptors on them, so COVID-19 can infect them. Because they have a nucleus, COVID-19 can hijack the cellular machinery in the nucleus to make more COVID-19 (which then kills the cell). Because so many immature red blood cells get killed, the body panics and makes more and more of them. The study found up to 60% of the red blood cells being immature, while normally less than 1% of red blood cells in the circulatory system are immature.
Meanwhile, mature red blood cells die off, as one does, but they don’t get replaced by immature red blood cells because the immature ones get killed too early. So less and less oxygen gets carried.
It gets worse: immature red blood cells are potent immunosuppressors. (Why? It’s the immune system, it doesn’t make sense.) That means that the body is less able to fight COVID-19.
I am not a doctor, but the thing that jumps to my mind is to give blood transfusions to COVID-19 patients immediately if they have low oxygen.
Scientists in Israel have found that 1 in 3000 to 1 in 6000 men aged 18-24 will develop heart inflammation. Almost all cases were mild and the young men recovered quickly. 10% of the cases were in young women.
It might be coincidence: that as social contact is ramping up, they are seeing more viral infections in Israel, which could cause a spike in heart inflammation. (Yeah, those are linked.)