Factcheck: False — Only People Who Have Experienced Severe Cases Go On To Have Long Covid

People who have only had minor cases of COVID-19 are still at risk for Long COVID. (Credit: Tim Mossholder/Pexels)

This post was originally published on New York Amsterdam News

By Heather M. Butts

As has been discussed in previous articles, Long COVID is a serious potential outcome of a COVID-19 infection, with additional re-infections of COVID increasing the chance of someone getting Long COVID. A myth that has been persistent is that only those who have experienced a severe bout of COVID-19 will get Long COVID. As experts told the AmNews, this is not correct.

When asked whether the myth is true, Lisa Sanders MD, medical director of the Yale New Haven Health Systems Long COVID Consultation Clinic said, “Absolutely not. In fact, I think the people who are most outraged are the people [who were] sick for less than a day and two weeks later [feel] tired and then two weeks later, the fatigue [is] overwhelming.” 

Sanders also said that patients who contracted COVID-19 back in March of 2020 “when we really didn’t know anything and it was a very serious disease and some of those people still have scars from…they have injuries that they sustained (from) being critically ill that stay with them, so certainly having a severe disease does not prevent Long COVID, but having a mild disease doesn’t, either.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “The severity of COVID-19 symptoms can range from very mild to severe. Some people may have only a few symptoms. Some people may have no symptoms at all, but can still spread it. This is called asymptomatic transmission. Some people may experience worsened symptoms, such as worsened shortness of breath and pneumonia, about a week after symptoms start.” 

Researchers at Harvard University Medical School found in a study that “[COVID] long haulers were most likely to be older, female, and have existing health conditions such as hypertension, chronic lung disease, obesity, diabetes, and depression.” The study also found that “(b)oth narrow definition and broad definition long haulers displayed a higher incidence of pre-pandemic comorbidities than non-long haulers, with narrow-definition long haulers having a higher pre-pandemic incidence of cardiovascular, pulmonary, endocrine, and other conditions such as depression, liver disease, and arthritis.” Black and brown Americans are more likely to have one or more of these comorbidities.

Lindsay McAlpline, MD, director of the Yale NeuroCOVID Clinic told the AmNews that the myth that Long COVID only affected people who had severe COVID-19 cases has even proliferated in the medical community. 

According to McAlpine, “when we would present to our colleagues and at conferences, that was a big myth in the medical community, too; it just wasn’t in the public population and people were really surprised and scared. I think that really anybody with a COVID-19 illness would be at risk because initially, a lot of our first-wave participants were in the hospital. Not all of them were in the ICU, but a lot of them were hospitalized. [However, a large number] of our study cohort  had mild illnesses at home. I’ve even had some people that had the sniffles and they got Long COVID.”

As to where we are with COVID and Long COVID, according to McAlpine, “I think it really is not over when it comes to anybody suffering from Long COVID because we don’t have specific treatments for Long COVID and there’s still a lot of people suffering and with significant disability (who) can’t go back to work, can’t get back to their normal lives, need treatment, [and] need answers.”

For additional resources about COVID-19, visit www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/index.page or call 311. COVID-19 testing, masks, and vaccination resources can also be accessed on the AmNews COVID-19 page: www.amsterdamnews.com/covid/.

The post Factcheck: False—Only people who have experienced severe cases go on to have Long COVID appeared first on New York Amsterdam News.