Coronavirus Chronicles — Long-Range Danger

The pandemic exerts on children many indirect or second-order effects. Those are bad enough, but of course, the worst-case scenario is for a child to actually come down with the sickness. Which, contrary to earlier beliefs, they certainly can do, and they also play a part in spreading it.

There also used to be an assumption that patients classified as having “mild” covid recover in a couple of weeks, which has been shown to be not totally accurate. Like adults, kids can stay sick for a long time. The subject is confusing because sometimes, in speech or print, people use the same words while mentally defining those words in different ways.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says most people who get COVID-19, recover from it. Does “recovered” mean they are discharged from the hospital? Does it mean they have the same level of health and wellness as before? Does it mean they simply hung onto life?

Does it mean a five-year survival rate? Obviously, nobody knows about the last question, because there are, of necessity, no five-year followup studies. Similarly, WHO says “Catching COVID-19 does not mean you will have it for life.” But technically, literally, millions of people have had it “for life,” because it directly or indirectly caused their deaths.

It is puzzling to see, every now and then, a quotation to the effect that while the active disease usually isn’t very bad, some symptoms, like tachycardia and memory loss, can continue for months. Common sense would seem to suggest that, when such troubling symptoms persist, they are not after-effects but are, in fact, part and parcel of the disease.

What do we really know?

Also according to WHO, most COVID-19 victims suffer symptoms ranging from mild to moderate. A person might ask what kind of time frame is involved. The condition called “long covid” has been recognized as a thing, and nobody knows how long it can potentially stay with a person. Who wants to deal with moderate symptoms, or even mild symptoms, every day for months, or years?

Considering the newness of the disease and the ever-increasing reports of long-term consequences, it does seem a bit audacious for humans to proclaim that they can’t have it for life. Studies imply parameters, and time is a notoriously inflexible one.

We are assured that patients “can recover thanks to supportive care,” which could mean a friend arranging for grocery delivery, or in some cases, several months in the actual hospital, under the strictest and most expensively-maintained conditions. Again, the more it is thought about, the less comforting it sounds.

This long-term menace does not apply only to adults, who may have already messed up their bodies, with some kind of complicated and complicating situation going on. When children appear to get off easy, with barely any symptoms, it may not be that simple. Nobody knows yet the long-range effects on kids, but at least some attention is being paid.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters,”, 03/26/21
Image by Bill Smith/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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