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Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19 can cause life-threatening sepsis: UAE doctors

Ashwani Kumar /Abu Dhabi Filed on September 14, 2020 | Last updated on September 14, 2020 at 06.20 am
Covid-19, coronavirus, cause, life-threatening, sepsis, UAE doctors


A recent study by the WHO revealed that the life-threatening condition accounted for 20 per cent of deaths globally in 2017.

Sepsis coupled with Covid-19 can cause serious illnesses including organ failure, experts have warned.

"Sepsis is the body's adverse response to an infection leading to tissue damage, organ failure and often death. Sepsis is caused when infectious organisms, such as bacteria or viruses, trigger an antibody response, which spreads throughout the body," said Dr Emmanuel Nsutebu, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City, Abu Dhabi.

He noted that both sepsis and Covid-19 are forms of infections. "There are an estimated 49 million cases of sepsis every year resulting in about 11 million deaths globally. More than 28 million people have been infected with Covid-19, and the virus has claimed more than 900,000 lives.

A recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that the life-threatening condition accounted for 20 per cent of deaths globally in 2017.

"Majority of Covid-19 patients develop a mild form of the infection. However, about five per cent of all Covid-19 patients go on to develop more severe forms requiring critical care. Covid-19 can cause sepsis by triggering a response from the immune system, leading to increased inflammation, and eventually organ failure. Patients with Covid-19 can contract secondary bacterial infections, making them more vulnerable to sepsis," said Dr Nsutebu.

He said that there are no diagnostics or tests specifically for sepsis but early detection. "The condition is typically diagnosed by doctors based on patient history, symptoms and a combination of blood tests. Patients who develop sepsis may experience a range of symptoms that are often related to where the infection originated. Early diagnosis is the best preventive measure against severe forms of sepsis, in parallel with containing the infection using antibiotics with their recommended dosages."

While there seems to be a knowledge gap about sepsis, Dr Hala Abu Zeid, chair of the critical care department, Tawam Hospital - Al Ain, underlined that the various school and community campaigns have created sound awareness among people in the UAE.

"In the UAE, sepsis occurs mostly among high-risk groups i.e. people who have lower than normal levels of immunity. Its prevalence varies among medical specialities. A contributing factor to the nation's high rank as one of the best countries to respond to Covid-19 is the government's strong advocacy for diagnosing sepsis and implementing treatment programmes using evidence-based medicine, in line with global standards for clinical care."

September 13 is marked as the World Sepsis Day. 


Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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