Coronavirus Chronicles — It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

The title quotation has been attributed to various speakers, and has been appropriated as a song title by numerous musicians. It is a truism that can apply to a lot of things, including COVID-19 in both senses — the existence and extent of the pandemic in the world, and the presence and effects of the disease in each affected individual.

We tend to hear all kinds of crazy numbers. In the United Kingdom, somewhere between 10% and 30% of coronavirus patients get long-term symptoms. A study looked at around 48,000 patients who were hospitalized with the virus, and then discharged. One in three was readmitted within a few months. More than 10% of these patients later died of complications. Ed Yong, for, wrote,

From the start, COVID-19 has been portrayed as a disease that mostly causes mild symptoms in people who quickly recover, and occasionally causes severe illness that leads to hospitalization and death. This two-sided caricature — severe or mild, sick or recovered — has erased the thousands of “long-haulers” who have endured months of debilitating symptoms at home with neither recognition nor care.

Currently, the same cautious advice is heard from many directions, to someone who thinks they had a mild case and got over it; and to someone who is vaccinated, for at least two weeks after the last shot — continue with mask-wearing, distancing, and hand hygiene — the whole nine yards. Thomas Smith, who writes about technology, says,

On a personal level, if you’ve tested positive for Covid-19 and feel fine now, don’t assume your disease is over… [I]f you still have symptoms after your Covid-19 test has turned negative, and are told that these are unrelated to the disease, be skeptical.

To truly measure (and react to) the long-term impacts of the pandemic, we need more nuanced measures.

A distinction has been drawn between the acute phase, when the immune system is actively engaged in combatting the disease, and PASC, or Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2. But at this point, it seems there is very little difference between talking about the acute and long-term versions, because it is really not clear, yet, that anyone ever truly recovers and stays better. One of the problems here is in accurately collecting statistics, and another is in making sense out of them.

Populations are not routinely tested to see if they even have the illness, and this was especially true in the first months of the pandemic. Since then, some countries have placed value on widespread testing. Others, not so much.

What we don’t know can hurt us

This could prove to be very dangerous, because quite a few people have it without ever knowing. They are asymptomatic, and if not tested, their numbers are not counted in relation to any other factors having to do with the disease. As a consequence, all kinds of statistics are skewed from the start, by not taking into account these undiagnosed coronavirus victims. Also, people whose active infection is deemed to have passed, tend to be left out of statistical analyses.

One of the few things we know for certain is that the affinity between the virus and obesity is shared by adults and children. As the months drag on, more and more medical professionals and laypeople alike are coming to realize that the direct, physical effect on kids cannot be ignored or discounted. They get it, and they transmit it. We will look more at both the physical realities, and the ever-expanding universe of secondary effects that the pandemic is having on children’s ability to resist or escape obesity.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Almost 30% of Covid patients in England readmitted to hospital after discharge — study,”, 01/18/21
Source: “America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral,”, 09/09/20
Source: “Official Covid-19 Statistics Are Missing Something Critical,” Medium.com08/09/20
Image by Mike Finn/CC BY 2.0

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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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