Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center.
Frank Ruschitzka told his pathologist to be ready before the first COVID-19 patient died. In early March, Ruschitzka, who leads the cardiology department at University Hospital Zürich, noticed that patients with the disease had strange symptoms for what was then thought to be chiefly a respiratory infection. Many patients had acute kidney failure, organ damage, and mysterious blood clots. Several weeks later, the first body was autopsied: Tiny clots and dead cells littered the capillaries of the lungs, and inflammation had distended blood vessels supplying every organ in the body.
The pathologist had never seen anything like it. But the results showed Ruschitzka why his patients were suffering so much: The virus had targeted their blood vessels.