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Why do some patients with COVID-19 die while others—who appear just as ill—survive? New research offers clues.

Harvard Medical School researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified the protein “signature” of severe COVID-19, which they describe in a new study published in Cell Reports Medicine.

“We were interested in asking whether we could identify mechanisms that might be contributing to death in COVID-19,” said Marcia Goldberg, HMS professor of medicine at Mass General and senior author of the study. “In other words, why do some patients die from this disease, while others—who appear to be just as ill—survive?” she said.