Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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So long, long Covid


HERE at TCW we have been ahead of the curve with our suspicions that long Covid was not real. We have pointed to the extensive list and the vagueness of symptoms and their remarkable similarity to other conditions, most recently anaemia. We have also been concerned at the poor quality of many studies and the fact that there have been reports of long Covid by people who had never even claimed to have Covid-19. Another concern has been that apparent long Covid could arise from the vaccines, and how this is never accounted for in studies. This has been doubly worrying as the vaccines continue to be pushed as a purported protection against covid (they do not work) and, ironically, against subsequent long Covid.

Now a study from Queensland, Australia, seems to show that we were right. The study casting doubt on the existence of long Covid led by Professor James Gerrard is not yet published but is due to be presented next month at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona. The study has been reported widely, and across the spectrum of political interests having featured in both the Mail and the Guardian. As well as other outlets in the United Kingdom and Australia, the study has also been reported in the United States and India.

The study involved more than 5,000 participants, half of whom claimed to have had Covid-19 on the basis of covid testing (not itself free of controversy) and half of whom did not claim to have had Covid-19 but who had been infected with other viruses such as ’flu. Only 16 per cent of all the participants reported long Covid type symptoms and only 4 per cent any level of debilitation. Remarkably, there was no difference in the reporting of long Covid type symptoms between those who claimed to have had Covid-19 and those who did not.

Commenting on the study, Professor Gerrard said ‘rates of ongoing symptoms and functional impairment are indistinguishable from other post-viral illnesses’. He concluded that reference to long Covid should cease as it causes ‘unnecessary fear, and in some cases, hyper-vigilance’. The researchers, in common with those of us who have commented in these pages, are not saying that people who report the symptoms currently associated with long Covid do not have anything wrong with them, simply that whatever it is, it is not long Covid.

The latest revelations must come as a great disappointment to our favourite source of Covid-19 related information, the newsletter of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Global Health NowGHN have been pushing the long Covid narrative for all it is worth. No study, however flawed or trivial, has been omitted provided that it conforms to the message that covid remains a major threat and that long Covid is a real and debilitating chronic condition. It is probably no surprise then that, on the day the ‘long Covid is not real’ story hit so many headlines across the world, their daily bulletin contained no mention of the story.

I expect they’ll be all over it next week, in which case I’ll be writing about it. But don’t build up your hopes.

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Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Roger Watson is a Professor of Nursing.

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