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Now researchers in Hong Kong have said that recovered coronavirus patients can be left with damaged lungs.

A small study of 12 patients discharged from hospital showed that two or three had reduced lung function. However, it is too early to confirm any long-term effects.

"In some patients, lung function could decline by about 20 to 30% after recovery," says Dr. Owen Tsang Tak-yin, medical director of the Infectious Diseases Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong.

Computer tomography have shown fluid- or debris-filled sacs in the lungs, which may get progressively worse as the illness develops.

What can determine the long term effects?

Why can this:

"In some patients, lung function could decline by about 20 to 30% after recovery," happen?

Are elderly more likely to this? or it could happen to anyone?

Does this only happen if you had severe symptoms?

  • 1
    You've asked four questions, none of which does anyone have good answers for yet.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 4:10
  • @CareyGregory could you share the link mentioned in my question to OP this of question, currently I have less that 50 and cannot comment. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 21:14
  • I think this video might have an answer for you, but just posting a video isn’t enough for an answer: m.youtube.com/watch?v=BtN-goy9VOY
    – nick012000
    Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 0:06
  • @nick012000 thanks. You could post the video and give a brief explanation of what is it about, that'd be ok as an answer me thinks Commented Mar 26, 2020 at 16:17
  • 1
    There's another reason: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventilator-associated_lung_injury - I heard this in an interview with a doctor in TV news, so no proper source -> comment only. But the doctor explained that many Covid-19 patients need ventilation very long and they often have extensive pneumonia which means that the ventilation must use high pressure to keep sufficient oxygen into the patients to keep them alive. But injury risk increases with pressure and with time at the ventilator. Commented Mar 28, 2020 at 0:07

2 Answers 2


The best theoretical model we have is that the SARS and SARS-CoV-2 viruses knock out the ACE2 receptor found on numerous tissues including alveolar cells, and myocytes, and intestinal luminal cells.

If those cells have died then they need to be replaced, and if and until when that happens there will be reduced organ function.

CT scans of recovered patients show some have ground glass changes pointing to extensive damage and scarring which may be irreversible.



  • Thank you for your very informative answer. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 17:52
  • "SARS-CoV-2 viruses knock out the ACE2 receptor found on numerous tissues including alveolar cells, and myocytes, and intestinal luminal cells" the knock out you mention here, is for anyone (young/old, healthy, ill, etc)? Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 17:53
  • One would think so but no one knows why some populations do better than others. Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 18:36
  • 2
    Viruses hijack cellular machinery to create copies of the virus Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 18:52
  • 1
    @America A combination of damage done by the virus itself and by the immune system trying to control it. It's a bit like asking "why is a city damaged while war is going on in it?".
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Mar 25, 2020 at 23:46

This video by Kurzgesagt gives a good overview of how the COVID-19 infection process works. The damage it causes to the lungs seems to the result of it damaging the cells that create a protective lining of your lungs; this happens both directly as a result of their infections of these cells, as well as by causing the immune system to attack healthy cells. By killing large numbers of these cells, bacteria that this lining would normally protect from are now able to invade the lungs and cause issues like pneumonia. Additionally, the damage that is done during the initial phase can cause significant amounts of scarring within the lungs as the body tries to recover from the damage.

  • Thank you sir for your answer Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 1:36

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