Coronavirus Chronicles — Symptoms, Confusion, and Ongoing Harm

Apparently, as many as half of coronavirus-infected individuals never manifest any noticeable symptoms, which leads the curious to wonder, how bad can an asymptomatic illness be? But one study suggests that as many as half of those “asymptomatic” patients fall prey to a subclinical effect called “ground-glass opacities.” GGOs, as they are familiarly known, sometimes heal completely, but sometimes leave scars. These are…

[…] areas of lung tissue that appear gritty and opaque (like ground glass), and that tends to develop as a result of inflammation.

This scar tissue could cause or contribute to poor lung function and shortness of breath, or even, theoretically, a slight increased in the risk for lung cancer later in life.

This is only one of the many morbidities that children may fall prey to. Perspective is changing from “Kids don’t die of COVID-19” to “Kids don’t die right away.” Of course, because the disease is less than a year old, science does not have the records of actual long-term patients to study. But science has its ways of extrapolating and projecting. After reading some articles about possible bad outcomes, a reader might form the impression that it will be a miracle if any child survivor of COVID-19 can make it to age 40 without a lung transplant.

Cause for anxiety

Over the past several months, much parental focus has shifted from “How do I prevent my child from getting a concussion, or rotting their permanent teeth, or growing obese?” to “How do I keep my child alive long enough for any of those other things to become a concern?” Months ago, health officials had their reasons for believing that children rarely catch COVID-19, and if they do, they don’t pass it around.

As it turns out, those beliefs appear less well-founded every day. Another thing science has learned is that obesity and the virus enjoy a mutually supportive relationship. An obese person is more likely to contract the disease, and to suffer more intensely from it. A person sick with the virus is likely to be less active, more depressed, and for these and other reasons, more susceptible to obesity. This cozy little partnership is a serious threat.

A person wants to stay well-informed, especially about such a crucial topic. This literally is a matter of life and death, and the more children an adult is connected with, the more that adult is alarmed by random news items.

All kinds of news

We are advised to optimize our personal, internal immune systems. We are told that the chemicals in some cleaning agents and sanitizers act as immune suppressers. We are told to wash our hands many times per day with substances that are, basically, toxins.

We hear how a big new study determined that when it comes to spreading this virus efficiently, kids aged 10 to 19 are the equals of adults.

We hear that case totals are going up, while death totals are going down, and it doesn’t seem to make sense. This is probably the easiest puzzle of all to answer. Due to the nature of fatal illness, and of crisis, and of bureaucracy, as well as some other factors, there is a time lag in the recording and publication processes.

As The Atlantic writer Alexis C. Madrigal wrote,

It takes a while for people to die of COVID-19 and for those deaths to be reported to authorities.

Madrigal’s very pessimistic assessment reminds readers that a virus neither recognizes nor respects arbitrary lines drawn on maps, and that going at this problem state-by-state is a losers’ game.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Even If You’re Asymptomatic, the Coronavirus Can Do Damage,”, 06/24/20
Source: “A Second Coronavirus Death Surge Is Coming,”, 07/15/20
Image by muffinn/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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