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Can COVID-19 Cause Injury and Death?

Updated September 22, 2023

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Yes, COVID-19 can cause injury and death. By August 2023 the CDC had reported over 1.1 million COVID-19 related deaths.  This data, however, includes both confirmed and probable cases. As early as 2020, the White House coronavirus task force reported that all deaths that occurred in SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals would be counted as a COVID-19 death regardless of whether the virus was responsible. As a result, the CDC’s data did not differentiate between persons who died as a direct result of COVID-19 illness and those who died from other causes but who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.   

COVID-19 mortality rates have decreased since the beginning of the pandemic that may in part be attributed to effective treatment and fewer cases requiring critical care interventions.   

COVID-19 Injuries

Most people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2 will have mild symptoms and fully recover;  however, COVID-19 can have serious complications that lead to adverse health outcomes and death. 

Many complications may be caused by a condition known as a cytokine storm. This occurs when an infection triggers the immune system to flood the bloodstream with inflammatory proteins referred to as cytokines, which can damage organs and kill tissue.  Complications of COVID-19 disease include pneumonia; acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS); acute kidney, liver, and heart failure or damage; septic shock; disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC); rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown); chronic fatigue syndrome; blood clots and death. 

Additionally, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is under investigation in relation to COVID-19 and it is not known what causes this condition. However, many children who develop this condition have been previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2. MIS-C is a condition where various organs of the body become inflamed. Symptoms of the syndrome can include neck pain, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, red eyes, excessive fatigue, and abdominal pain. 

Adults may also be at risk for developing a similar condition to MIS-C, known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Adults (MIS-A), days to weeks following SARS-CoV-2 infection. Symptoms are similar to those found in children, but may also include low blood pressure and chest pain. The CDC states that they still do not know what triggers this conditions and report that they are continuing to research the syndrome. 

It is reported that about 2 percent of individuals who recover from COVID-19 may also experience debilitating symptoms which include shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhea, racing heart, intermittent high fever, as well as neurological problems such as memory loss, “brain fog”, and attention problems and is termed “long-COVID”.    The median age for this condition is 45 and women appear to carry the burden of this condition. 

There are no tests to confirm a diagnosis of long COVID and the CDC reports that some people with symptoms of long COVID have had no prior history of a COVID-19 infection or positive COVID-19 test. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about covid-19 and the covid-19 vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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