Corona Virus is the most popular topic as it has affected everyone in some ways. There are studies that have been conducted in order to stop this pandemic. one of them is Cytokines Shock which shows significant responses. Cytokine shock is a process that rarely occurs in patients with COVID-19. It helps to fight this virus and heals the patient.
The worst moment of the coronavirus epidemic in France seems to have passed. The daily number of deaths is decreasing and the number of people healed is now higher than the number of newly infected people. It looks like our health system is finally starting to breathe a bit. This is why the government is currently organizing gradual deconfinement. This process will take place in several phases.
In this context of a pandemic, many people have not yet fully grasped all the complex concepts linked to the disease. One of these complex concepts is cytokine shock. Before getting to the heart of the matter, it is necessary to clarify certain points beforehand.
Some information to clarify on COVID-19
During the month of March, the overall fatality rate for coronavirus was 3.7%. In France, the recently estimated mortality rate is 35 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants (healthy and sick).
The probability of a fatal outcome of the disease varies with age. Before the age of 40, it is estimated that less than 0.2% of those infected die, and among the most vulnerable, namely those over the age of 80, the percentage rises to almost 15 %.
If it is important to clarify this information, it is because the feared cytokine shock only concerns a very small percentage of sick people . It is therefore not necessary to worry too much. We only want to inform you about a reality related to the coronavirus, not to alarm you.
When the immune system serves us ?
Diseases like COVID-19 or flu Influenza, in the most serious cases, can be fatal because of the overactivation of the immune system. This process is known as cytokine shock.
Cytokines are small proteins released by different cells in the body. Among these cells are those that coordinate our body’s response to pathogens by producing inflammation.
Cytokines direct immune cells such as T cells or macrophages to the focus of infection. It is a retroactive process: the release of cytokines promotes the production of a greater quantity of these proteins by immune cells.
This very effective protection system can become too effective. Let’s take an example… When the virus responsible for COVID-19 enters the lungs, the cytokines direct antibodies to this area of the body so that they fight against the pathogen by producing local inflammation. An excessive release of cytokines or an overly powerful feedback cycle can cause hyper inflammation of the lung tissue. This hyper-inflammation can seriously damage the patient’s organism, or even end his life.
Cytokine shock is common in the elderly, even outside of a coronavirus pandemic. This process is associated with other viral infections such as the flu , SARS and MERS, and still with other diseases such as multiple sclerosis or even pancreatitis.
What to do in the face of cytokine shock?
To keep things clear, we will avoid using confusing terminology here when explaining what action is to counter cytokinic shock.
To put it simply, we can say that the action to counter cytokine shock consists in reducing the efficiency of the immune system . This answer is astonishing, isn’t it?
For this, health professionals use steroids. We know that, from time to time, these hormones decrease the intensity of the immune response. However, their effectiveness in patients with COVID-19 has not yet been clearly proven.
The problem is that it is really difficult to find a balance within the immune system : the immune system must be functional enough to fight the virus, but not too much so that the patient’s life is not endangered.
There is still good news on the subject. A study in China used an antibody that inhibits the immune response to some extent. This antibody is used in patients who have arthritis or cancer and cytokine shock.
The antibody tocilizumab (Actemra) was administered to 21 patients suffering from a severe form of COVID-19. After a few days, the fever and other symptoms improved considerably. Of these 21 patients treated, 19 survived and were able to return home after two weeks.
Some countries are currently testing this and other similar antibodies. This is the case in Italy, for example. However, as you can see, the samples are too small to guarantee full efficiency .
In short… is cytokine shock worrying?
We have exposed the worst scenario here, an exceptional situation in which the immune system is so effective that it ends up serving the patient and putting his life in danger. This is not to say that contracting the disease will be life threatening. We would like to remind you that cytokine shock concerns a minority of cases and that it is therefore an exceptional process .
However, this is all the more reason to understand the importance of social distancing measures in these times of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the concept of civic responsibility . This process is rare, but it exists. It should therefore not be ignored, especially to protect those most vulnerable to the disease.