Coronavirus Chronicles — The Fallacy of False Dichotomy

In previous posts, we have mentioned how researchers are reluctant to declare certainty for the record unless there is a preponderance of the evidence, and how this conflicts with the public’s “We want it NOW” attitude.

It is almost as if the public is more eager to find reasons to complain than to absorb information, and this makes the scientists’ job more difficult. Of course, as always, there are scientists whose conclusions differ, and when so many people are looking for reasons to minimize or deny a very real threat, the result is a mess.

One of the biggest obstacles to progress is the insistence, from many quarters, on making coronavirus an either/or situation. A widespread and belligerent mindset that says patients either die or live, and if they live, everything is fine, and there is no need to worry about them any longer.

But no. A huge third realm of reality is involved. Just because someone was never an inpatient, or was hospitalized and then discharged, that does not mean they are fine. Some people are plenty sick, and for long time. Some ostensibly get better, but are never as well as they started out, and many suffer recurring attacks that arbitrarily strike different bodily systems with varying intensity. How does this affect children? In two major ways, which we will look at further along.

Conflicting accounts

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the disease lasts from two to six weeks, but multitudes of patients beg to differ. Let’s look at recovery time for someone who is sick enough to be hospitalized. Reuters journalist Julie Steenhuysen interviewed Dr. Sadiya Khan, who defines recovery as when a person returns to the same level of function as before the illness. This very often does not happen. When it does, it could take a week of rehabilitation time for every day they spent in the hospital.

For instance, if a patient was inside for week, it could take seven weeks to recover. That’s two months. It’s one-sixth of a year. And it does not even include the time they spent being sick at home before entering the hospital. This is official news, factual enough to be published. But it only scratches the surface of what is really going on.

Hard-headed deniers like to say that only the elderly and unfit succumb to the illness’s worst effects, but Athena Akrami is just 38, and before getting sick she regularly worked out at a gym three times a week. After supposedly recovering from the virus, the University College of London neuroscientist was unable to return to work, and she is one of many whose experiences disproves the “old and weak” misconception. Akrami told a reporter,

Everybody talks about a binary situation, you either get it mild and recover quickly, or you get really sick and wind up in the ICU… My physical activity is bed to couch, maybe couch to kitchen.

But not everyone has journalists reaching out to them. Most feel that nobody else wants to listen, so they form online forums and support groups to share their narratives. One such patient, Dani Oliver, wrote,

You’ll wake up feeling better and assume, like would be true for the flu or a cold, you’re on the mend. But then… you get worse. & then you’re feeling better again! & then you’re bedridden, worse than before. It makes no sense. You start to think you’re losing your grip or maybe it’s all in your head. It isn’t. Thousands & thousands are experiencing these cycles.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Scientists just beginning to understand the many health problems caused by COVID-19,”, 06/26/20
Source: “From ‘brain fog’ to heart damage, COVID-19’s lingering problems alarm scientists,”, 07/31/20
Source: “Thread,”, 07/03/20
Image by Phil Venditti/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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