Call For Study Of Lungs Of Covid-19 Victims Finds No Takers
A call for a study of lung tissues by conducting postmortem biopsies of people who died from Covid-19 found no takers in Karnataka, primarily due to the complications involved in dealing with contagion deaths.
The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka and the Indian Council for Medical Research called for proposals for conducting lung biopsies in patients who died from Covid-19, to understand the disease progression in the lungs, which is the primary organ damaged by the coronavirus.
Dr. S Sachidananda, vice-chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences said, no proposals have been made so far.
“The RGUHS has called for study proposals with biopsies of the lungs but no researcher has come forward to conduct research,” the Karnataka health commissioner Pankay Pandey said.
There have been 44 Covid-19 deaths in Karnataka so far, but no organ tissues like lung or heart tissue have been collected. Only in one case of a Covid-19 patient who committed suicide at the hospital, an autopsy was conducted.
Biopsies are medical procedures conducted to study the nature of a disease and its progression in an organ or body by extracting cells or tissues affected. Several studies have been conducted using lung tissues in different parts of the world, including China, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in January. The researchers from the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University published a study in the journal Nature that showed extensive damage in the exchange surfaces in the lungs that keep the blood oxygenated and facilitate breathing.
The “Standard guidelines for medico-legal autopsy in Covid 19 deaths in India” recently published by ICMR outlines the need for research on the effects of coronavirus in organs like lungs of the human body.
Safety is one of the issues affecting research on lung samples from coronavirus victims. Standard operating procedures for conducting postmortem examination on victims of Covid-19 has been issued by the Karnataka health department. It states invasive autopsies of Covid-19 victims have to be conducted by forensic experts only in the case of unnatural death.
A great deal of caution is required while obtaining samples of lung tissue from those who died from Covid-19. Also, the consent of families of the victims is needed. Due to these reasons, no one is keen to conduct biopsies of lungs or other organs for Covid-19 research and hence received no proposals for the study of lung tissues of Covid-19 victims.
As per the guidelines of ICMR and health authorities, proper ethical clearance from the respective institute is a must for conducting pathological autopsy for research” purposes on Covid 19 victims. ICMR has stated that as per the specific objectives and methodology, informed consent and other ethical aspects like confidentiality, religious sentiments, etc. should be addressed.