A great report to show how little we still know about COVID-19

Really fascinating COVID-19 report in the online December 8 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

It’s a report from Parma, Italy, in which 2 identical 60-year-old twins (neither of whom had a history of chronic disease or established cardiovascular disease risk factors) were diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection and in whom the resulting illness went in entirely different directions.

Both were hospitalized with pneumonia, and both received exactly the same treatment in hospital.

But while one twin developed milder illness and was discharged without complications, the other twin got gradually sicker and was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit, where he developed a few complications and ended up spending 17 days in the ICU.

A curious note about the twins, though: While both lived at the same address and both worked in the same automotive shop, the interesting demographic difference is that one brother was married – the one with the milder illness – the other was not.

I doubt that marriage protects against COVID-19, although there is a possibility that marriage, or more likely, just having a mate, leads to less stress – yes, it does – and that has a role to play.

That rather unlikely note aside, what this report makes clear is we just don’t know enough about the SARS-CoV-2 virus is why it hits some people so hard while leaving so many others with little or even no symptoms or problems.