Podcast #13 COVID-19: What happens in the lungs?

In this series, Timothy Trudgen and Biritjalawuy Gondarra explain how the body’s immune cells coordinated response is activated when COVID-19 is found in the throat. If the immune system is not able to stop COVID-19 reproducing in the throat, and it spreads to the lungs, the damage caused needs medical treatment. At first a person may feel a sore throat and a headache. But if the disease progresses as the body is not able to stop the virus, it can become a lung infection and even lead to death. The first treatment for lung infections from COVID-19 is oxygen. A respirator is used when the lungs do not work enough on their own.

In Story No.1, Tim and Biritjalawuy discuss how lungs work. Lungs contain many small sacs that are so small they can be only one cell thick. Many capillaries cover the sacs. Oxygen travels from the sacs to the capillaries and is then transported around the body.  The capillaries are not firm and thick like arteries. Veins in the lungs transport oxygen to the heart, then the heart pushes this oxygenated blood into arteries around the body. Air enters the lungs, and so can diseases that destroy the small sacs. When diseases reproduce in a lung sac, the disease cells spread easily into other sacs.

In Story No.2 Tim and Biritjalawuy explain when the COVID-19 virus reproduces to an amount that attracts the body’s own immune system to move more white blood cells into the lung sacs (alveoli), blood plasma fluid may enter into the many small individual sacs.  In healthy people, the fluid stays in the capillaries and does not move into the sacs.

In Story No.3, they discuss how blood plasma can be seen when your skin is cut, and clear fluid seeps out of the wound. When alveoli are filled with fluid, oxygen cannot move from the air into the blood, or around the body. When there is no fluid, the lungs can transport oxygen from the air to the blood. Without sufficient oxygen, the body becomes weak, the heart slows from lack of power. As the heart slows, it does not send blood around the body effectively, including to the lungs. A person in this state deteriorates increasingly. The person breathes, but their body still lacks oxygen until they pass away from insufficient oxygen. The initial treatment for insufficient oxygen from fluid in the lungs is an oxygen mask. This gives a patient concentrated doses of oxygen to breathe. If they deteriorate further and require a respirator, this forces concentrated oxygen into the lungs.

In Story No.4, Tim and Biritjalawuy look at how to support and improve the body’s own immune system through natural foods. Yolngu people eat natural foods from the bush, sea and other places that have nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These can also be found in some store bought food such as meats with fat and coloured vegetables (red, green, orange and purple). While processed foods provide some energy, they often lack nutrients. To care for your white blood cells you need to stop eating processed packaged foods and eat fresh living foods instead. This will help you to fight diseases such as COVID-19.


There are 4 Stories in this podcast. Please see time stamps below:

  • Story No. 1COVID19 inside the body: What happens in the lungs  Part 1                 00:00
  • Story No. 2 COVID19 inside the body: What happens in the lungs Part 2                 10:20
  • Story No. 3 COVID19 inside the body: What happens in the lungs Part 3                 21:36
  • Story No. 4 COVID19 inside the body: Strengthen your cells (short version)           34:42


Click on the links below to listen to the other podcasts in our COVID-19 series: 

Please note: Podcasts 1 & 2 are not currently available online due to the unfortunate death of one of our presenters.