Like a key, SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – attaches to specific molecules on the host cell surface, opening gateways into the cell interior. Viral entry into host cells triggers a prodigious immune response. Much of this battle is waged within the lungs, which explains why many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have severe respiratory symptoms.
Respiratory symptoms, however, are only part of the story. Increasing evidence points toward blood vessel inflammation as having a crucial impact on the severity of COVID-19. In addition, anywhere from 30 to 80 percent of patients experience neurological symptoms, including dizziness, headache, nausea, and loss of concentration. These symptoms suggest that SARS-CoV-2 also affects cells of the central nervous system.