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Shantha Perera

Dr Shantha Perera is a Senior Lecturer in Immunology and Medical Microbiology at University of Wolverhampton.

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and was in good health, but two days after arriving back fell ill, developing a dry cough and chills. But he continued to work for another week before deciding to present himself at an outpatient fever clinic at his local district hospital. He complained of feverishness, chills, a persistent cough and shortness of breath. He was found to have a fever – an elevated body temperature of 39°C – and a chest X-ray showed ‘multiple patchy shadows’ in both lungs: the organs were inflamed and the alveoli, the tiny sacs where oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, were full of fluid.1 He tested positive for SARSCoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that led to the worldwide disease of Covid-19.
He was admitted to an isolation ward, put on supplemental oxygen and given interferon alpha and two antiviral drugs. He was also prescribed an antibiotic in case he developed secondary bacterial pneumonia. As he was short of breath he was started on daily steroids to control the inflammation inside his lungs. None of these drugs were proven to be effective in treating Covid-19, but the doctors were keen to try anything to stop the progression of the disease.
Following treatment, the patient’s temperature dropped to 36.4°C. But the cough, shortness of breath and fatigue did not improve. Worryingly, another X-ray taken 12 days after the onset of illness showed worsening lung infiltration. Surprisingly

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