Do you see low blood oxygen levels, or just ugly CT scans?Not sure what to tell you... this is what we see sometimes. A lot of patients coming in for abdominal pain, neck pain, motor vehicle accidents, shoulder dislocations, etc with no respiratory symptoms. They get scanned, the lungs look ugly on CT, and it turns out they are COVID positive. No cough, no shortness of breath, (sometimes) no fever.
Usually in healthier younger patents with plenty of lung reserve. The extent of the long term damage is still of course unclear, but when the CT image should be black and there is a lot of white.... there is clearly inflammation, pus, blood, etc. filling up the lung tissue. That stuff is "damaging", at least in the short term for sure. And other pneumonias can cause long term damage too, I would be surprised if COVID is somehow much different.
Edit: removed “shortness of breath” after taking a short “reading is fun” course.