Got into a bit of a tweetbeef ‘tother day with an acquaintance from Statehouse days. Not to name names, but he’s a lobbyist for… shall we say… Pat Leahy’s Favorite Body of Water Bedroom of Business Transactions?
Anyway, he squeezed out this little turd:
Covid is here to stay, we have just mitigated the effect so that has same odds and outcomes as the seasonal flu. You need to listen to scientist more…
“Listen to scientist,” you say.
I didn’t react well to this piece of nonsense, partly because I am at elevated risk & have a personal stake in this, partly because his follow-up tweets dripped with condescension, but mostly because this formerly fringe belief is rapidly and alarmingly entering the mainstream discourse. That’s dangerous.
And it’s bullshit.
And I have receipts. From “scientists” plural.
There’s been plenty of research since the early days of the pandemic to indicate that Covid is much worse than the flu — in terms of the illness itself and its aftereffects. But lately, there’s been a flurry of new and very troubling research that ought to immediately kill this “Covid is like the flu” nonsense.
Here’s the short version.
- Covid-19’s infection mechanism is different from the flu’s. While flu generally attacks the pulmonary system, Covid can attack anywhere in the body.
- One in three of those who become sick with Covid suffer some after-effects in the ensuing six months.
- Almost half of young people ages 10-22 suffer some after-effects in the ensuing six months.
- Covid is killing rural Americans at twice the rate of urban Americans. This is a relatively recent phenomenon, likely related to the Delta variant. Since Vermont is overwhelmingly rural, that’s a problem for us.
Still think Covid has “same odds and outcomes as seasonal flu”?
Let’s dig into this shit potpourri, shall we?
“Covid-19 is not just respiratory, it affects every organ of the body,” says Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, founder of the patient advocacy group Health Watch USA and a frequent writer on Covid-19 issues. Viruses that cause the common cold, he writes, can only infiltrate the body via a “receptor” found only in sinus tissues. Flu viruses take advantage of a receptor that’s primarily in the respiratory system, but they can also affect a person’s immune response.
The coronavirus, according to Kavanagh, takes advantage of a different receptor — one that’s found throughout the body. This is why Covid can present with such a wide variety of symptoms, and why it produces such a broad array of aftereffects. Speaking of which, a new and very large-scale study indicates that the aftereffects of Covid are more widespread than previously believed. The study included more than 270.000 Covid patients, and found that 36% reported Covid-like symptoms three to six months after their illnesses. That’s more than twice as often as in patients who had the flu.
The number is even worse for young people between the ages of 10 and 22. Forty-six percent reported Covid symptoms three to six months after initial recovery. A different study found that “long Covid” can strike “even young people and those who had a relatively mild illness.” So it’s not just a concern for old folks like me. This new research makes clear that we’re not only exposing our kids to potentially serious illness, but also to longer-term complications.
About these findings, Dr. Kavanagh posed the question: “Do you really want to have our children as the guinea pigs to find out what the Delta variant’s going to do? Because let’s face it, we are confronted with a more contagious, a more lethal virus that’s more apt to affect the young.”
Lovely. Makes the Scott administration’s under-resourced, ever-shifting, belated steps on fighting Covid in schools look downright negligent.
And then there’s data showing much higher Covid death rates in rural America, which obviously includes most of Vermont. This trend apparently began as the summer ended, coinciding with the peak of the Delta variant. Experts speculate that the likely causes are “rural Americans’ greater rates of poor health and their limited options for medical care.” Staffing shortages at hospitals also contribute, and rural hospitals are having trouble transferring the severely ill to larger hospitals that have few, if any, beds because of the Delta surge. This not only affects those with Covid, but those with other conditions serious enough to warrant transfer to a larger hospital.
This is just a sampling of available research indicating that Covid-19 should not at all be compared to seasonal flu. I’ll take this evidence over the assertions of a lobbyist for business interests that want to keep tourism dollars flowing and encourage people to go to shops, restaurants and bars. That kind of self-interest tends to warp one’s sense of judgment.