Covid -- effects other than mortality

There’s a ton of information on death rates, because death is really easy to measure, and, of course, a serious symptom of a disease. But personally, I’m also worried about hospitalization and “long covid”.
This is a thread for information about the effects of covid other than mortality. I guess if covid also ifs found to improve your 5G reception, that could go here, too.

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Here’s a scary study out of the UK that found significant cognitive deficits amongst covid survivors.

Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19 - EClinicalMedicine (

People who had recovered from COVID-19, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits versus controls when controlling for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, tiredness, depression and anxiety. The deficits were of substantial effect size for people who had been hospitalised ( N = 192), but also for non-hospitalised cases who had biological confirmation of COVID-19 infection ( N = 326). Analysing markers of premorbid intelligence did not support these differences being present prior to infection. Finer grained analysis of performance across sub-tests supported the hypothesis that COVID-19 has a multi-domain impact on human cognition.

Long covid scares me too.

But I think there is also reason to believe there is significant “background” hopefully increasing the apparent rate.

Many of the symptoms are things like being tired, having trouble thinking, etc. All things we can experience just from living through this awful last 1.5 years of covid.

I saw a study on long covid in kids in which 2-3% of kids who did not get covid still reported some “long covid” symptoms.

This is not to say long covid isn’t real. My understanding is that it definitely is. But hopefully not as widespread as some of these studies imply.

By the way, this is another reason i think covid is still riskier than the flu even if the hospitalization and death rates are reduced to be similar to the flu, either because of vaccination or youth. Unfortunately we are probably all going to get it eventually.

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Part of the problem is there isn’t a clear, consistent definition of “long covid.” Like you say, it’s a collection of symptoms that can vary from study to study, some of which might be described as general malaise, and often symptoms that are also consistent with prolonged fear/anxiety:

(Source:12 Effects of Anxiety on the Body)

I posted this in another covid thread a while back: a study on “long covid” in kids that, importantly, included a control group of seronegative kids:

(bold added; italics in original)

But this might be the study you saw - this was published just recently in the Lancet: Illness Duration & Symptom Profile in UK School-Aged Children

By the way, flu & other viruses can also have lingering symptoms or long-term sequelae. Whether covid truly does this more often than other viruses is still an open question (looks likely, but how much more often?). The main reasons you’ve never heard of “long flu” are a) it’s pretty rare and b) it lacks the marketing budget.


I agree with this.

Ultimately the “biological risk”, ie the true propensity estimated from perfect knowledge of the disease, may not be much worse than the flu for all i know, at least in kids. Although I think this is likely to be quite a bit riskier, at least for the unvaccinated.

But we don’t know right now, which creates more epistemic risk if nothing else.

However, my understanding is that researchers have, for example, examine people with “brain fog” closely and found objective measures like IQ to be lower after covid.

It would be nice to know if we are talking about losing taste and smell for 6 months, which is supposed to be worse than it sounds but nothing to be too scared of. Or being unable to walk up flights of stairs anymore for a year. Or being unable to do your job again. All these things are lumped as “long covid.”


The study i posted specifically looked at reduced mental functioning, and found that people who’d had covid had significantly lower scores on a test of mental performance than those who hadn’t. The mental performance test was also being done for other reasons, and they were careful not to mention covid in advertising the study, so as not to bias the data by attracting participants worried about long covid. The results are not huge, but are awfully consistent across different types of mental functioning, and show a consistent “dose effect”, with a larger deficit among those who had more serious cases of covid.

They also asked about long-covidy symptoms and found them more often among those who had had covid than among those didn’t, but i didn’t read that part very carefully.

There seem to be four major things lumped in as “long covid”:

  • Brain damage. (Yeah, “brain fog”, probably also “anxiety disorders”)
  • Continued difficult breathing
  • Asomnia (no sense of smell)
  • Lack of energy

The last is probably chronic fatigue syndrome, which can be triggered by a variety of viral illnesses (and sometimes has no known cause). It may happen more often after covid than after most common viruses. It’s really hard to diagnose, even in a particular person. For instance, a friend had it for more than a year, and doctors told her she was depressed, should have a baby… And then it resolved as mysteriously as it came, and she was a high-energy person again.

It will take a while before we get a handle on any of these.

That’s are also several easy-to-diagnose problems, that aren’t super-common, but seem happen after some cases of covid. Like sudden-onset diabetes, kidney damage, and lung damage. I bet we’ll ultimately find that heart disease and clotting disorders are on that list, as well.

As for long COVID, just found out my SiL has had a constant menses since COVID - perimenopausal, 55 yo.

Not sure if root cause can be proven, but MDs have said they have seen it a lot. But the lack of ability to tie cause and effect is scary

I’m sorry for your SIL. That is scary.

I know there is some concern about the long term heart health of children who can sometimes get an inflamed heart after even minor cases of covid.

I don’t know if this is expected to be rare, but pediatricians need to worry about it to make sure the kids who get it are treated. Or if there is worry it might not be that rare.

I’ve never heard of heart disease from a cold, but it used to be a somewhat common problem after a case of strep throat.

Rheumatic Heart Disease | Johns Hopkins Medicine

For reasons that aren’t well-understood (but probably have to do with genetic drift of the strep bug) it’s much less common than it used to be.

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The problem with a lot of these things is that it’s so hard to prove relation to Covid. Especially for a 55 yo with menstrual problems. Or anyone with anxiety. Having a bout of Covid that puts you in the hospital might be what finally gets a person to seek therapy for issues that started way before Covid. It did for me.

I’m a little worried about my husband. He was not hospitalized. His “long Covid” symptoms are hard to nail down: lack of smell, not sleeping well, brain fog for sure. I think he may have sleep apnea, and I cannot remember clearly if his sleep issues started before or after Covid. In the past he might have sleep issues for a couple weeks but then a weekend of good sleep would help him get back on track. The brain fog could well be related to his sleep issues. His job is not mentally taxing, but more often in the last year he has made mistakes that are not like him. If we were in our 60’s instead of 50’s I’d be a bit worried about dementia.

For myself I’m more worried that there is something going on that isn’t causing current symptoms. That could be anxiety speaking tho. I am honestly thinking about doing those tests that doctors say most people don’t need. Where you pay like $139 for 5 tests. But I’m probably just being paranoid.

Assuming it’s referring to viral cardiomyopathy.

I thought this was interesting:

The only symptoms I have are a persistent cough, which I had before Covid, and I get pretty tired if I try to exercise, which honestly has not been much since last October. I was great at walking every day right out of the hospital but once I went back to work that went out the window.

Well, you kind of have, but it’s not called “long flu”. Two that you probably have heard of are:

  • Schizophrenia is more common among people whose mothers had the flu when they were in utero (Probably mostly around n months, but I read about this several years ago, and I’m fuzzy on the details.)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is likely caused by “long random viruses you don’t hear about”
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I didn’t know that about Chronic Fatigue. That fits, then, with reports I’ve seen about long Covid.

So I found a number for the place local to us that is specializing in long Covid. After reading through the website info together I pointed out to hubby that he has several symptoms and it would be worth a call. It doesn’t say you need a referral, you just need a positive diagnosis x weeks ago (I think 4) and insurance.


Well, it turns out you do need a referral.

He has to see his PCP anyway to refill a medication, so he’ll discuss it with them.

He has to get a Covid test (rapid) to see his PCP! They’ll do it in the parking lot.

Is this common in 2021? Mine requires masking, but now allows people to wait in the waiting room instead of in their cars.

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Not in my experience. I just had a couple of medical appointments, including one with an ENT who needed me to take my mask off so she could shove a scope up my nose. No one tested me for covid. I have been required to wear a clean mask, and my dentist also took my temp. But that’s it.

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That has been my experience and also my daughter’s. In fact she sees doctors a lot more often than the two of us combined.

I don’t know if it’s because the doctor is in his 70’s or what. I wonder what the positivity rate is among his patients. Maybe it’s his way of semi-retiring bc a lot of patients might rather switch doctors than be tested every.single.visit. Actually, now that I think of it, hubby did NOT have to be tested to be seen last year.