Doctors studying a 50-year-old man who died in China last month from the new coronavirus found that the disease caused lung damage reminiscent of two prior coronavirus-related outbreaks, SARS and MERS.

The patient died on Jan. 27 after a two-week illness that left him increasingly breathless. His heart stopped following damage to his alveoli, tiny grape-like sacs in the lungs that help bring oxygen into the blood and expel carbon dioxide. Blood tests showed an over-activation of a type of infection-fighting cell that accounted for part of the severe immune injury he sustained, doctors at the Fifth Medical Center of PLA General Hospital in Beijing said in a study released Sunday.

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, has infected more than 70,000 people and killed over 1,700 — far larger than the coronavirus outbreaks over the last two decades that caused SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, and MERS, or Middle East respiratory syndrome.