Is a formal campaign against Long Covid underway?

Diwi9

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Not one, but two articles in the press today about Long Covid needing to be scrutinized and questioning the allocation to the NIH to fund research. The articles circle around the concept that Long Covid is likely some form of hysteria. Sound familiar?

Sadly, this first article is by an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School:

https://www.statnews.com/2021/03/22...re-critically-speaking-cautiously-long-covid/

And, this second article in the Wall Street Journal:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-dubious-origins-of-long-covid-11616452583
 

Diwi9

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I am curious if there are specific think tanks or lobbying entities pushing for this sort of media coverage in the US. It's one thing for someone to post this stuff on their personal Twitter feed or blog, but to get published on mass distribution news outlets. Let's see what the rest of this week brings. The comments to these articles on Twitter are enlightening. There is the advocacy contingent responding with facts, but then there are other people gloating over a psychosomatic explanation.
 

livinglighter

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Hopefully, with all the research being carried out into long covid, the findings should be enough to shut these people down. I see it as a deliberate attempt to stop such research by planting the seed of doubt...
If specific think tanks or lobbying entities are pushing for this media coverage, they should be investigated. That's something I think the long covid community can do. They've been able to assemble and vocalise themselves very well.
 
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nerd

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It has been the same biased media filtering when Ivermectin received attention after the hearing of Dr. Kory.

They use the same judgemental terminology to influence opinion formation.

Reporting on long Covid needs to be more cautious for several reasons.
This doesn't apply to the very same article, I fathom? What a hybris...

Why does this matter? For one thing, if some proportion of long Covid patients were never infected with SARS-COV-2, it shows that it’s possible for anyone to misattribute chronic symptoms to this virus.
Purely speculative. Where is the caution he demands?

But what’s more notable is that the late-December survey also found virtually no difference in the long-haul symptom burden between those with and without antibody evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection (or any positive test), which undercuts the likelihood of a causative role for SARS-CoV-2 as the predominant driver of chronic symptoms in that cohort.
Admittedly, while blood tests are reported as highly sensitive and specific, they are imperfect and can yield both false positives and false negatives. And there is some evidence that antibodies can wane over time.
I assume facts are only relevant if they favor one argument but not if they are inconsistent with another argument.

Gastrointestinal symptoms, confusion and forgetfulness (“brain fog”), severe fatigue, hair loss, and headaches are surprisingly common, even in the general population.
If he did his research properly, he would have found that all these unspecific syndromes are associated with specific chronic diseases. If he did his research properly, he would have found all the studies on post-viral syndromes that result in specific chronic diseases. Let's follow this logic. Because COVID-19 is symptomatically associated with "brain fog", headaches and severe fatigue, COVID-19 should receive more critical media attention, right? Maybe it's not real?

But there’s no question that mental suffering can produce physical suffering. A New England Journal of Medicine report showed that, across multiple continents, about half of people with depression also had unexplained physical symptoms, which often predominated over their mental ones. Sleeping problems, physical and mental slowing, persistent fatigue, and concentration problems (aka “brain fog”) are among the actual criteria for major depression in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).
How is it possible that an Associate Professor at Harvard isn't able to distinguish correlation from causality? Because depression is associated with physical symptoms, depression has to be causal? What a ridiculous argument. Well, if that is the case, maybe COVID-19 really doesn't exist and is just a depression? Because of all the people in lockdown. And studies show that the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with depression. What else do you need as evidence, right? They're really trying the CFS/ME trick again, don't they? No need to check for temporal causation. But let's be cautious, he demands? Well, as long as it serves his own arguments...
 
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Reading this makes me think of an interview I saw recently with Dr. Davis where he explains why doctors don't take ME/CFS seriously:
The patients present with very strange symptoms that the doctors haven’t seen before…and then they, “well okay, we’ll do our standard physical exam and we’ll measure all these things,” which is 20 or 30 things they measure, and they come back normal. In fact, ideal. They have low blood pressure, they have low cholesterol in most cases. And we do this with Whitney who is bedbound and can’t eat or talk, he looks like he’s in the peak of health from those tests. But he’s not. And if you do more testing you realize how bad a shape he’s actually in.

So the problem, I think, in it’s just the tradition of doctors measuring these things and not really realizing that they’re only taking a tiny bit of the molecular nature of the human being, and they’re just missing it. So since they think there’s nothing wrong and they have these strange symptoms, 'it must all be in their head and they’re all imagining it.' And that’s a stupid position to take, quite frankly.

And they just need to look deeper and they don’t want to do that. Maybe because they don’t have time and it’s not taught in medical school so it’s not a real disease. And it is a real disease and it’s a serious disease and many, many people have this.


I do not think Long COVID patients in the grips of mass hysteria. Rather, a lot of these doctors may not be looking deep enough or looking at the right measures in order to figure out what is wrong with these patients. And once more evidence of physical problems becomes evident I hope that they will be open-minded enough to evaluate that evidence and adjust their thinking.

But let's assume for a moment (bear with me here) that these doctors are correct, and Long COVID symptoms are due to trauma, mass hysteria, and mental anguish. These people are being debilitated, and many have been for about a year already. The medical and economic costs are great, to say nothing of the personal costs. Why would that be less worthy of research funding than a condition with a physical basis?? Shouldn't doctors and researchers want to treat all of these people so they can feel better and get back to their lives?

This reaction by doctors ("it's psychiatric, so just deal with it yourself.") always makes me angry. One time my mother was in the hospital after an atypical anaphylactic reaction, and a PA marched over and told her that she actually had a panic attack, ordered her pumped full of ativan, and then sent her home. My father argued with the PA, "if are so sure she had a psychiatric episode severe enough to land her in the ER, why don't you call a psych consult? Why are you just sending her home with no other instructions other than to relax?" It's as though they feel like psychiatric conditions aren't worthy of treatment, and that people should just go home and get over themselves. No wonder there's a mental health crisis. Rant over.
 

Abrin

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My personal opinion is that the press can try to spin the Long Covid thing as much as they want. Too many health professionals have gotten post-viral fatigue after this pandemic so unlike in the past this will end up being a war within the medical establishment itself. I got to say that I've got my popcorn at the ready and I am totally here for it. :)
 

hapl808

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My personal opinion is that the press can try to spin the Long Covid thing as much as they want. Too many health professionals have gotten post-viral fatigue after this pandemic so unlike in the past this will end up being a war within the medical establishment itself. I got to say that I've got my popcorn at the ready and I am totally here for it. :)
I'm here for it, but I think both the press and medical establishment will still try to spin it. Since some people will recover, especially younger people, they'll use that as the baseline. Oh, people generally recover within a few months. Ergo, if you don't recover in a few months, it's your fault and probably in your head. The health professionals with it will probably self medicate with stimulants and other things to survive until a real crash comes, and then they'll just drop out of the system.

But the sliver of idealist left in me does hope that there will be some real research and help. We spent literally trillions on this disease, but can't be bothered to spend any real money on the people suffering from various forms of post viral fatigue / CFS / ME or whatever you want to call it.
 

Wayne

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Very good NYT article. Below the link is the introduction...

They Had Mild Covid. Then Their Serious Symptoms Kicked In.

In the fall, after Samar Khan came down with a mild case of Covid-19, she expected to recover and return to her previous energetic life in Chicago. After all, she was just 25, and healthy.​
But weeks later, she said, “this weird constellation of symptoms began to set in.”​
She had blurred vision encircled with strange halos. She had ringing in her ears, and everything began to smell like cigarettes or Lysol. One leg started to tingle, and her hands would tremble while putting on eyeliner.​
She also developed “really intense brain fog,” she said. Trying to concentrate on a call for her job in financial services, she felt as if she had just come out of anesthesia. And during a debate about politics with her husband, Zayd Hayani, “I didn’t remember what I was trying to say or what my stance was,” she said.​
By the end of the year, Ms. Khan was referred to a special clinic for Covid-related neurological symptoms at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, which has been evaluating and counseling hundreds of people from across the country who are experiencing similar problems.​
Now, the clinic, which sees about 60 new patients a month, in-person and via telemedicine, has published the first study focused on long-term neurological symptoms in people who were never physically sick enough from Covid-19 to need hospitalization, including Ms. Khan...​
 

hapl808

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Interesting. I often have tried to explain my brain fog to people as feeling like I just woke up from anesthesia. It's the only thing that feels like an accurate comparison from my truly pre-ME days. The level of concentration it can take to have a simple conversation or try to complete a form or something reminds me of getting out of the hospital after surgery.
 

Abrin

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I'm here for it, but I think both the press and medical establishment will still try to spin it. Since some people will recover, especially younger people, they'll use that as the baseline. Oh, people generally recover within a few months. Ergo, if you don't recover in a few months, it's your fault and probably in your head. The health professionals with it will probably self medicate with stimulants and other things to survive until a real crash comes, and then they'll just drop out of the system.

But the sliver of idealist left in me does hope that there will be some real research and help. We spent literally trillions on this disease, but can't be bothered to spend any real money on the people suffering from various forms of post viral fatigue / CFS / ME or whatever you want to call it.
Oh I completely agree with you that the press and the medical establishment will still try to spin it. They always do.

It is just that I also think that when it comes to things like ME/CFS, lupus and other similar diseases that the medical establishments days of being able to outright deny their existence as just being psychological without any real resistance against them from their fellow colleagues is now going to change. In my experience most medical professionals have way too big of an ego to not go down swinging. Grins.
 

Booble

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I think that it's going to be a tough battle and ultimately long COVID will be dismissed like CFS/ME. The reason, in my opinion, is that the symptoms too closely match or overlap with symptoms that are prevalent with anxiety. Until there is an acceptable diagnostic test for whatever it is we have going on I think it will all be soon pushed aside. I hate to say this because in general I'm an optimist but I'm also a realist and that is what my gut is telling me of human nature and the medical profession.
 

hapl808

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Agreed - that is the most likely outcome. Also, many new CFS people who probably never had Covid will be seen, and thus the 'disease' will start to be dismissed. Those people didn't have Covid, so how can they have long Covid. The same issues we have - if there are no reliable tests or diagnostic tools, then everyone is flying blind.
 

Wayne

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@Booble -- @hapl808 -- I understand your sentiments, but I'm of the belief there are going to be a lot of long-haulers, and the sheer numbers will dictate that this is not some kind of superficial psychological phenomonen. It's already being given a lot of credence by some of the leading media outlets, and I think it will likely garner more and more attention as the implications of so many long-haulers becomes more and more clear.