A new study of the heart tissue of people who have died from Covid-19, from the flu, and from other causes, shows that patients with Covid have material changes in DNA in heart cells.(1)
The flu has an interesting, reciprocal relationship with cardiovascular disease (CVD). (2) Patients with CVD are at greater risk of serious and even fatal cardiovascular events if they also contract the flu. However, the flu can cause inflammation of the heart in people not diagnosed with CVD.
What the traditional flu doesn’t do is affect cell genetics. Covid-19 does that. At this point we haven’t mapped the process that creates mutations in DNA. We just know that the mutations are there.
As noted in a prior post, Covid-19 also works on brain cells, reducing brain mass comparable to what a person would lose between ages 70 and 80.
As usual, the disease hasn’t been around long enough to assess true long term effects. However, the heart and brain damage noted would appear to be irreversible in an adult, making it fairly safe to assume that there will be long term damage. We just need to discover what it is.
Final note: This research is based on biopsies of deceased individuals. Frankly, taking heart tissue samples from living patients is at best problematic in terms of both costs and risks. However, there is no obvious reason to conclude that DNA mutations occur only in those who die. There are no barriers to these mutations occurring among other, healthier individuals, including those infected with this coronavirus but never showing symptoms of infection.
There is on-going work to determine why some people seem immune to Covid infection. Natural immunity does appear to exist, but seems rare.(3)