Friday, March 12, 2021

"Unlocking the Mysteries of Long COVID", long article in Atlantic by Meghan O'Rourke


NYC 2015

Meghan O’Rourke authors a long article in the March 8 Atlantic, “Unlocking the Mysteries of Long COVID”, link   

The narrative begins with the work of a physician Zijian Chen, at Mt Sinai in NYC, after he was appointed to be in charge of post-COVID care in the spring of 2020. He saw many more patients than he had expected, including other physicians and professionals (one was a dietician).

Many of them were relatively young (even under 40) and many were women, who were not supposed to be as vulnerable to severe COVID as men.  They reported having “mild” cases.   But they seemed to have trouble with breathing and heart rate, “brain fog” and muscle pains, sometimes digestion. 

The underlying problem is dysautonomia, abnormal function of the autonomous nervous system. The virus seems to damage the peripheral nervous system even in mild cases, maybe through autoimmunity. The article also discusses a condition called POTS, “postural orthostatic tachycardic syndrome”. Of some help in therapy is retraining patients to breathe more deeply, which may be difficult because of some lung scarring. 

It is unusual for a respiratory virus to cause so much systemic damage (enteroviruses are more likely to do this) but that is partly because the virus can lock onto receptors that many tissues have, especially ACE2,  a capability that evolved with bats, with their high metabolisms.

We could have a public health problem for years, where 10-30% of those with noticeable disease fight off the disability caused by “long hauler COVID”.  Who pays for this.

You have to wonder, when people belligerently say they won’t wear masks, if, outside of possibly believing in the hoax theory, simply believe in “survival of the fittest”, literally, that the disease is a purge of the unworthy whom the virus has tested, and that belief certainly comports with fascism.  It certainly can drive the angry indignation of the “left”.


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