Dr. Ben Diener’s piece, “The Grim Truth of COVID-19,” is excellent, I felt, except for one omission that seems to be quite common in such articles.

We need more information on how common are cases where healthy people show long-lasting effects and physical damage. Without some sense of that, it’s easy for those who wish to consider the condition no big deal, except for old folks, to look at people, e.g., Trump or Christy, who appear to have emerged intact.

If you’re in denial, there are supportive arguments that might crumble if a substantial percentage of patients are revealed to have ongoing difficulties.

Dr. Deiner replies:

An astute observation and excellent point. The phenomenon known as Long COVID Syndrome or Long-Haul COVID (patients are known colloquially as “long-haulers”) is well-described, but neither well-defined nor well-understood. It is suspected to be the result of an immune-inflammatory response, but its true etiology remains unclear. Interestingly, it affects not only those with severe disease, but those with mild and moderate cases as well.

As the science remains in its infancy, the actual number of long-haulers remains a mystery — although data are slowly emerging. In an October article from the journal Clinical of Microbiology and Infection, about two-thirds of patients with non-severe disease experienced continued symptoms two months following onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Even in younger patients ages 18 to 34, a September WHO telephone study noted prolonged symptoms in as many as 20 percent of its respondents. Certainly there can be a myriad of confounding variables making studying this condition all the more challenging.

The answer to your query is not clear, although will be clarified in years to come. What is clear is that avoidance and vaccination present a better alternative than even a mild case of COVID-19.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.