A recent comprehensive autopsy study conducted in Switzerland has revealed important insights into the underreporting of SARS-CoV-2 infections and the true mortality rates associated with COVID-19. The study aimed to address discrepancies in reported COVID-19 mortality rates and found that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in a higher percentage of lung tissues than initially reported by clinicians. This suggests a higher infection rate and mortality rate than previously believed.
The study also highlighted the substantial underreporting of COVID-19 cases, contributing to excess mortality. It was noted that there have been two distinct cycles of excess mortality in the European Union, mirroring the waves of the pandemic. However, establishing a clear causal relationship between COVID-19 and excess mortality remains challenging.
The autopsy findings provided valuable insights into the true impact of SARS-CoV-2. Post-mortem testing revealed a significant number of previously unknown COVID-19 cases, challenging the accuracy of pre-mortem diagnostic methods. The study also shed light on the patient characteristics and autopsy findings associated with COVID-19 mortality. It was found that respiratory failure due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) was the leading cause of death, followed by cardiovascular-related deaths and malignancies.
Post-mortem testing for SARS-CoV-2 showed a substantial underreporting of cases, with viral RNA found in organs beyond the lungs. Despite concerns about bacterial co-infections, the study found them in a comparable percentage to non-COVID-19 control patients, challenging the narrative that secondary bacterial infections play a predominant role in COVID-19 mortality.
The study highlighted the complexities of COVID-19 mortality, including the limitations of pre-mortem testing and the impact of evolving trends in patient management and testing strategies. It emphasized the necessity of accurate post-mortem testing to uncover hidden cases and accurately assess the true burden of the virus on global health.
Overall, this comprehensive autopsy study emphasizes the underreported impact of SARS-CoV-2 infections and challenges prevailing notions of COVID-19 mortality rates. It underscores the critical role of autopsies in advancing our understanding of infectious diseases and refining public health strategies.