While COVID-19 mostly kills older people with underlying conditions, it can have devastating effects on the vast majority who survive the initial illness - including younger individuals.
Based on what we know about this brand new disease, up to half of those who contract it may show no symptoms. Of those who become sick, effects range from no worse than the common cold, to 'worst flu I've ever had,' to requiring hospitalization and oxygen support, to death.
And while many believe we need to just rip the band-aid off and achieve herd immunity with a de-facto global 'chickenpox party,' evidence is mounting that coronavirus may remain in the body for weeks after a patient is 'cleared' of the disease - with some experiencing a second stage of the disease, and others reporting the illness hitting them in waves.
In South Korea, nearly 100 COVID-19 patients deemed 'recovered' had tested positive again, according to Jeong Eun-Kyeong, director of the Korean CDC, adding that the virus may have been reactivated rather than the patients being re-infected."
To that end, members of Reddit's "Covid 19 positive" forum - many of whom are younger, have been sharing their frustrating experiences as their bodies can't seem to shake the virus.
A few examples of this alarming trend in threads:
- 7th week of being symptomatic today. Anyone else strugggling to fight this off?
- Symptoms Resurging
- I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired
- 29 days - keeps coming back
- Almost 4 weeks since first symptoms appeared I feel like I'm getting new symtpons
- 27 Days and Scared Reading These Posts
- We Need to Talk About What Coronavirus Recoveries Look Like
And a few excerpts, mostly from the '7th week' thread above:
"I first became symptomatic on the 29th of February. I'm 30 years old and male. Have had 2 ER visits including a chest x-ray which was apparently clear. Cough comes and goes, absence of taste in mouth/metallic taste on tongue. Mild fever which has worsened this week. Starting to get incredibly weak. Had diarrhoea on and off since the start also. Lymph nodes are very sore and had shortness of breath feeling quite a lot too although my sats have normally been good.
Today marks the 49th day (7 weeks) of being sick and whilst I have had a few days where I began to feel better, overall I don't feel like I'm recovering."
And in reply:
I'm on day 51. Still weak off and on through the day, still have gunk in my lungs. I cried last night over the kitchen sink because I'm so sick of this. My breathing has been not too bad for the last week, but I woke up this morning feeling shortness of breath, which freaked me out. I thought that that symptom was over and done with.
I wish that there was more in the news about this presentation of the virus-the long lasting, up and down symptoms.
Another Redditor responds:
I started with mild symptoms in the first week of March...my most severe ones were about 4 weeks ago where I was struggling to breathe. I'm still getting wiped out just by going for a 30 minute walk outside. Breathing starts getting laboured at that point too, but otherwise I'm fine.
It's exhausting dealing with it. I'm not sure how my wife is handling it because she says I'm looking and acting normal all of a sudden and then after a bit of activity I've got sputum, laboured breathing, and am ready to fall asleep on the next park bench.
I'm so frustrated because I'll be walking along a path seeing people riding their bikes at the pace I was running at 5 weeks ago...it just doesn't feel like it's going away any time soon
"ME TOO. I'm 26 years old, healthy BMI, no pre-existing conditions. Week 7 (49 days) since I first got sick and the last week or so I've had chest pains and heart flutters. The difficulty breathing has gotten better some days but then regresses a bit. Like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. This is getting to the point where it seems ridiculous...I'm still barely able to work and can't exercise yet."
An Italian coronavirus victim writes:
Hi, I'm 29M And on week 6 since first symptoms. I feel better but not as before the disease. I have occasional muscle pain occasional diarrhoea and occasional sore throat. Some day I feel like nothing happened and the day after bam my happiness disappear because I fell not so well. Hope that they will develop some medicine. I feel that this is not over....
I have been battling this for more than 30 days at this point. It has never gotten to the point in which I had to go to the hospital but I have experienced a wide range of symptoms that I have never experienced before. Everything from the usual fever, cough, chest tightness to elevated heart rate, edema in one foot and very sharp pain on my left thigh, that seemed to come out of nowhere and I'm still dealing with.
These symptoms are unpredictable, weird and relentless.
This virus is honestly the worst thing that has ever happened to me and it's really hard to find the strength to keep going at times. I understand I'm very lucky...it could be worse. It's just hard to deal with this for sooo long. I just want to wake up one day and feel normal.
I really would love to know if recovery is truly real.
Clicking through the rest of the bulleted threads above reveals similar experiences shared by a disturbing number of people who have been grappling with COVID-19 with no end in sight.
So, as we consider the plan to reopen the economy by putting those most likely to survive contract COVID-19 back to work, it's crucial that we employ strict measures to minimize infections to the greatest extent possible until we know more about the long-term effects of the disease, and/or a treatment is developed which can manage the myriad of lingering mystery symptoms. Unfortunately, a woeful lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) is going to make that a challenge.