Stanford Researchers Study COVID-19 Severity Spectrum

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So much of coronavirus is unknown, including why the virus makes some people so sick, and leaves others with no symptoms at all. Now Stanford researchers are trying to figure out why.

Connie Ruspini is a coronavirus survivor and incredibly recently climbed Mt. Whitney after beating the virus. An amazing feat given her entire family contracted COVID in early April.

“Diego got sick first the first Friday in April,” said the Sunnyvale resident, talking about her husband. “He is asthmatic so we started treating him with his regular meds.”

And when the meds didn’t work, Ruspini’s daughter Natalia started getting sick.

“It didn’t occur to me it could be COVID until I came home from work and saw everyone in bed,” Connie said.

The Ruspini family of four, along with their nanny, all tested positive for COVID-19.

Diego and their nanny ending up in the hospital and their youngest son had no symptoms.

The big question is why.

“That’s one of the great mysteries of covid-19 infections,” said Dr. Bali Pulendran, a senior author of the study at Stanford. 

It was put together to try and figure out why family members who get sick with the same strain of COVID-19 have varying symptoms.

Doctors analyzed the immune response in 76 COVID-19 patients and compared them with 69 healthy people and made a few discoveries.

“There were high quantities of bacterial debris in the blood,” said Pulendran.

It was the first time they’ve seen those molecules in COVID patients, giving doctors some insight on how this disease works.

“Pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and age all had the effect on the progression of the disease and disease severity,” said Pulendran.

It will take more studies to determine why some patients get sicker than others, especially people who become infected living in the same household like the Ruspini’s.

They are survivors with a message about staying healthy.

“We can do this, wear a mask please,” said Connie.

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