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Long Covid – new information on asymptomatic positive patients

Long Covid – new information on asymptomatic positive patients
Dr Jerrol Thompson an infectious disease specialist

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by Dr Jerrol Thompson

Early in the Covid-19 Pandemic, some persons were saying the pandemic was nothing worse than a little flu and falsely claimed 99% of infections were asymptomatic or mild and even the majority of those who had moderate or severe Covid-disease, that might have required hospitalization also recovered. However, in reality almost 15% got it moderate to severe or were hospitalized and while most eventually left the hospital, many did not completely recover. Further 2% of all cases died and globally 117 Million cases with 2.6 million deaths (or 2.2% deaths) substantiates this. Deaths from Covid-19 is five time (and climbing) greater than flu related deaths for the last five (5) years combined.

As mass vaccination takes place and over 250 million doses have been given globally, we are hearing good news; like AstraZenica for example, in Real World Data from persons vaccinated is showing 90-94% efficacy, 100% prevention of severe cases and hospitalizations, 100% prevention of deaths and remarkably a 70% reduction in transmission.

Unfortunately, we are now also seeing an explosion of a new phenomenon called LONG COVID. Most of the previous studies of the long-term Covid-symptoms were focused only on people who were sick enough to be hospitalized. Some of these were termed Long Haulers as the infection persisted while in hospital for weeks or months. Now Long Covid is roaring even in those who were Asymptomatic since they had first tested positive. In one large study at King’s College London, UK, people who were followed very closely, almost daily for six weeks after becoming positive, an estimated 200,000 of them reported symptoms for the entire six weeks of the study. Another study of 1,407 people in California who tested positive for the coronavirus, and evaluated for more than 3 months after their infection, 27 per cent, were still struggling with post-Covid symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, cough or abdominal pain. The main symptoms were Chronic Fatigue, Chronic Headaches, Shortness of Breath on Exertion and Brain Fog, according to another CDC release. Many ‘Long Covid’ Patients had no symptoms at the time of their Initial positive test; but an alarming 32 percent who had asymptomatic infections started reporting troubling after effects weeks and months later. That is, one third of patients who were asymptomatic and had no symptoms from their initial coronavirus infection through the 10 days after they tested positive, these long-term problems and symptoms then just came roaring in.

A key question is what was causing these recurring symptoms. Was it reactivation of a persistent viral infection or reinfection? While both occur, it’s the long term organ damage the virus causes after entry through the respiratory track followed by a blood infection (viremia). The virus damages organs like the heart, blood vessels, lungs, kidneys, brain, pancreas, etc. The virus caused Diabetics to become uncontrolled and persons with unsuspected pre-diabetes to develop full blown diabetes due to a damaged pancreas, which produces the body’s insulin. Persons with clotting problems saw them worsen from damaged blood vessels and a Chest X ray or CAT-Scan of the lungs showed the classical grown-glass and Covid severely scared lungs. It is unclear how long these problems will last; but it may be for the rest of their lives. Vaccination on the other hand is showing significant protection from severe symptom, death and transmission. Those persons who have questioned if the Virus is any worse than the Vaccine? You bet it is!

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