Infection by the new corona virus strain SARS-CoV-2 and its related syndrome COVID-19 has been associated with more than two million deaths worldwide.
Patients of higher age and with preexisting chronic health conditions are at an increased risk of fatal disease outcome. However, detailed information on causes of death and the contribution of pre-existing health conditions to death yet is missing, which can be reliably established by autopsy only.
Were performed full body autopsies on 26 patients that had died after SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 at the Charité University Hospital Berlin, Germany, or at associated teaching hospitals.
Were systematically evaluated causes of death and pre-existing health conditions. Additionally, clinical records and death certificates were evaluated. Were reported findings on causes of death and comorbidities of 26 decedents that had clinically presented with severe COVID-19. Were found that septic shock and multi organ failure was the most common immediate cause of death, often due to suppurative pulmonary infection.
Respiratory failure due to diffuse alveolar damage presented as immediate cause of death in fewer cases. Several comorbidities, such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and obesity were present in the vast majority of patients.
These findings reveal that causes of death were directly related to COVID-19 in the majority of decedents, while they appear not to be an immediate result of preexisting health conditions and comorbidities.
Were therefore suggested that the majority of patients had died of COVID-19 with only contributory implications of preexisting health conditions to the mechanism of death.