COVID-19 patients amaze doctors with rapid recovery

COVID-19 patients amaze doctors with rapid recovery

A migrant family waits near Majestic in Bengaluru to return home. DH Photo/Pushkar V

If the recovery rates of COVID-19 patients can be compared to track runners, some patients, it turns out, are world-class sprinters. 

On Monday and Tuesday, the state discharged a total of nine people who had recovered from the disease in just 10 days. While they may not necessarily be the Usain Bolts of the Covid recovery community, they come a close second.

Going by government data, only 13 of the 748 people discharged in the state have recovered in 10 days or less. The state average for recoveries is 17 days. However, a large chunk of the people cured in the state have taken as many as 22 days. International averages are roughly the same.

Among Monday’s "wonder cases" is a Bengaluru case. Patient 1066 is a 20-year-old migrant worker from the Shivajinagar cluster. Doctors at Victoria Hospital where he was being treated expressed astonishment at his rapid recovery.

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Dr C R Jayanthi, dean, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMRCI), said two factors were likely behind his swift recovery. "One, is his body was producing a higher-level of interferons and the second, was that his body was somehow able to control the scale of the cytokine response," she said, adding that BMRCI will conduct a study to identify potential factors dictating recovery rates among patients.

Other ‘wonder’ recoveries

On Tuesday, a 68-year-old man from Bhatkal became the 13th patient to join this select club, when he was discharged after being cured in 10 days. 

The remaining seven are in Kalaburagi. District Commissioner Sharat B described the developments as "unexpected". He explained that the Kalaburagi authorities were following standard Covid treatment protocols formulated by Victoria Hospital, but where hospitalisation differed was the patients were being fed high-quality food. "We believe the aspect of nutrition played a part. Considering the district’s high caseload, we are optimistic that our other cases will also be cured soon," he said.

Most of Monday’s recovered were women. Three are aged, 10, 14 and 15, whose good immunity could potentially explain their rapid recovery, and another is a 33 year-old woman, but the rest fall into a more Covid-susceptible age bracket. One is a 55-year-old man, another is a 50-year-old woman and the last is a 60-year-old woman.

Cytokines, generated by the immune system to fight pathogens can often do more harm by clogging blood vessels with large numbers of immune cells if generated in very high levels (aka ‘storms’). They can starve organs of oxygen and nutrients and worsen recovery, according to Professor Dr Deepak Saini, a molecular biologist at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Dr Jayanthi added, "Possibly, a cytokine called interleukin-6, which has been found at high levels in patients with serious Covid-19 was prevented from escalating in the case of Patient 1066." 

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