It’s fairly uncommon for three women from different countries, two of which are halfway across the world, to share concerningly similar symptoms, much different from those suffered by their friends and loved ones.
Rachel Pope, Elisa Perego, and Amy Watson played a key role in defining and naming what we know as “long COVID” today.
We may have finally cracked the code for long COVID
Three years later, we’re still struggling to figure out why certain individuals deal with this variant of the disease and why some are forced to live with their symptoms with seemingly no end in sight.
8 months in to #LongCovid, this month I handed over the bulk of my job + the keys to my house. This is not a sob story – I'm lucky to have a supportive employer + a home to sell. But it's still heartbreaking. If you're not worried about #LongCovid, you should be. #CovidIsNotOver
— Rebecca (@sumner_smith) December 20, 2022
Millions across the world have reported long-lasting symptoms, such as fatigue and lung issues. While the data suggests that most of them make a recovery within a year, the research found the variant is responsible for over 3.5k deaths in the US alone.
Recent studies have found women are at significantly greater risk of contracting long COVID and it’s mainly due to how their immune systems are built.
On average, the female immune system develops a stronger reaction to viral and bacterial infections, parasites, and other germs.
It doesn’t help that women are much more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases; some scientists believe that long COVID is actually an autoimmune response to the virus.
Additionally, the female body has a higher fat percentage; some studies have shown the virus can “hide” in fat tissue after the infection subsides.
The more I learn about long COVID, the worse it gets.
— Chris J. Maddison (@cjmaddison) December 19, 2022
It all falls into place
With this sort of information, the fact that three women thousands of miles apart reported similar symptoms suddenly doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch.
Watson started her Facebook support group in April 2020. It helped bring people with similar symptoms together as they shared their experiences, hoping that they’d be back to normal soon.
Unfortunately, the pandemic and its symptoms went on for far too long. The overall morale of the group suddenly dipped, with the majority of its members coming to terms with the fact their symptoms won’t be going away in the foreseeable future.
It's been 37 months. 1,136 days since my first neurological symptom from #LongCovid. There is no cure. Nobody in medicine, research, the government, etc is coming to help. The popping eyes and jaw spasms along with the rest of the body. I've tried EVERYTHING. Hope is gone
— Sierra3 (@ctrssierra) December 23, 2022
Another study found the infamous Epstein-Barr virus could be one of the key culprits in some cases of long COVID; inflammation can reactivate herpes viruses, which remain in our body after infection.
The Epstein-Barr virus is fairly common though. It’s estimated that almost 90% of the US population has it in their bodies, with the majority of us writing off the symptoms it causes as the result of a common cold.
Even though not every long COVID patient has markers alluding to Epstein-Barr virus reactivation, those that do may have contracted the COVID variant because of them.
It’s also believed that chronic fatigue syndrome is caused by Epstein-Barr virus reactivations, but it lacks additional research to be proven.