We are looking at how the consciousness of the serious nature of long COVID originated and then progressed over the ensuing months. In mid-2020, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute contributed some words about the early understanding of the problem. It was becoming clear that being “asymptomatic” did not guarantee an absence of damage from the virus. Dr. Topol wrote,
If you do a CAT scan of these patients’ lungs, you see significant abnormalities tied to Covid, and these are woefully understudied. We also know this the virus can go to the heart and kidneys, so that needs to be looked at too.
He warned of the possibility that “below-the-surface problems” could increase a coronavirus victim’s risk for long-term health complications. At the same time, from Israel, Nathan Jeffay reported on people who tested positive and yet had no symptoms — and their opposites, those who tested negative, or who had ostensibly “recovered,” but who still experienced massively disturbing symptoms.
Prof. Gabriel Izbicki of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center shared with the Times of Israel reporter that “More than half the patients, weeks after testing negative, are still symptomatic.” Some were unable to sleep. Doctors were puzzled by the appearance of symptoms in arms, legs, and other places where the virus was presumed not to have a direct impact. Patients had “freak pains,” and some reported their pain level as 10 on a 1-to-10 scale.
Exhausted by life
They were unable to walk more than a few steps, or too lethargic to find the motivation to do anything but exist. They had breathing problems, unconquerable weakness, and extreme weight loss (not the flattering, fashionable kind). Patients who had allegedly been “recovered” for months kept coming back with unusual patterns of symptoms that could not be found in the textbooks.
Dr. Izbicki was puzzled by his inability to predict which patients were able to shake off the disease, as opposed to those who would still be suffering months later. He told the reporter, “There is no correlation between seriousness of disease during hospitalization and extent of symptoms afterwards.”
Suspicion began to grow that COVID-19 was not just a lung condition but quite possibly involved the circulatory system and thus the entire body. Eran Schenker, director of the clinic for recovered COVID patients, told the reporter,
The damage was not done by the virus, but by an inflammation process which, we know from other diseases, will not leave lungs with the capacity to exchange oxygen as before.
Mitchell Tsai, who interprets medical matters for laypeople, described how coronavirus makes the blood “sticky” seven months later, and is prone to clog the tiny vessels that carry oxygenated blood not only to the lungs, but to the heart, brain, and every other organ, as well as to the mundane parts like arms and legs. He also described demyelination, where the immune system attacks the body’s own nerve cells, “causing weakness, numbness, and tingling.” In some cases, demyelination can lead to psychosis and hallucinations.
A team of MSN.com reporters soon described how the virus inflames and damages blood vessels in a way that can negatively affect the brain. They also related how a preliminary study of COVID patients (who were mostly able to avoid hospitalization) nonetheless showed that about a quarter of the subjects still endured at least one symptom after 90 days. A European study of nearly 2,000 non-hospitalized patients revealed that three months after their first symptoms appeared, about one-third of those victims were still dependent on a caregiver for their daily needs.
They also quoted Mount Sinai’s Dr. Zijian Chen, who said,
I haven’t really seen any other illness that affects so many different organ systems in as many different ways as Covid does.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “What You Need to Know About Asymptomatic Spread of Covid-19,” Medium.com, 06/10/20
Source: “‘It’s frightening’: Doctors say half of ‘cured’ COVID patients still suffer,” TimesOfIsrael.com, 06/28/20
Source: “Seven months later, what we know about Covid-19 — and the pressing questions that remain,” Quora.com, 08/19/20
Source: “Doctors Begin to Crack Covid’s Mysterious Long-Term Effects,” MSN.com, 11/01/20
Image by Jernej Furman/CC BY 2.0