Inflamed brains, toe rashes, strokes: Why COVID-19’s weirdest symptoms are only emerging now

by Times Newsroom 1

An infection can inflict serious damage inside your body in many different ways, and COVID-19 seems to use just about all of them. The coronavirus primarily attacks the lungs, which can cause pneumonia or even respiratory failure, and in one of every five patients, it also leads to multiple organ failure.

Yet, as the pandemic continues to ravage the world, case reports have emerged of more unusual damage ranging from hundreds of tiny blood clots to strokes in young people, and even mysterious inflammatory responses, such as full-body rashes in children and the red lesions that have come to be known unofficially as COVID toe.

Although these conditions seem strange and scary, they have been seen in viral medicine even before the advent of COVID-19, and, to some degree, they are to be expected. Every human body is unique, so a disease that strikes millions of people will yield some oddities. What exactly is going on in these cases, and how common are they? Here’s what we know—and what the scientific community still needs to find out to treat these unusual cases.

COVID-19 and the body: The basics

COVID-19 starts as a respiratory disease. The virus invades cells in the nose, throat, and lungs and starts to replicate, causing flu-like symptoms that can progress to pneumonia and even punch holes in your lungs, leaving permanent scars. For many patients, that’s the worst of it.

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