Covid: It's That Bad

The fight of a generation.

Doctor in plague mask.

There's no limit to what it can steal from you.

Those are the words of Natalie, a Covid survivor who went hiking on her wedding day. Now she spends her life in a darkened bedroom. Meanwhile, a world-class trail runner named Emilia kills herself after a Covid infection leaves her with an unstable heart. Around the world, smart talented young men and women are losing their careers after Covid ravages their organs, their brains, their immune systems. Some of them will recover. Some might benefit from treatment. Many of them will never be the same.

These were musicians, writers, scientists, athletes.

They were the future.

We only have estimates, since our governments refuse to collect or report official data. Based on hundreds of sources, your general risk for Long Covid hovers around 10 percent for both adults and children. That's the number given by an important study "The Immunology of Long Covid" in Nature Reviews Immunology. They overview the wide range of conditions, ranging from "breathlessness and neurocognitive impairment" to "increased risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, and types 1 and 2 diabetes." As the authors put it, "the oncoming burden of long so large as to be unfathomable." That's why so many people want to ignore the problem.

Your individual risk depends on a large number of factors, but there's a consensus: one out of every ten people who catch Covid go on to develop Long Covid. It's not a one-time risk, either. You face these odds every single time you catch the disease. Your risk accumulates. According to a groundbreaking Statistics Canada report, you're almost three times more likely to develop Long Covid after your third infection. The more times you catch Covid, the more likely you are to come down with a debilitating chronic illness.

Although the media has dismissed previous calculations that Covid is now more contagious than measles, the current data tells a different story. According to the Pandemic Mitigation Project, we'll soon be averaging 2 million cases per day. If nothing else, that gives the flu a run for its money. As we've seen now, Covid spreads in the spring, the summer, the fall, and the winter. This is what your friends and family think you should be fine with.

In response, governments are rolling out plans to reduce the number of people who qualify for disability benefits. In the U.S., the Census Bureau plans a new survey that will lower their official disability count by 20 million people. As a piece in STAT warns, this change "will artificially reduce national estimates of disability almost by half." The Bureau acknowledges this intent. That's the entire point. As Nate Bear writes, Britain is making a similar move, eliminating their minister for the disabled.

As OK Doomer previously wrote, the CDC has stopped reporting excess mortality, after manipulating their own data. Insurance companies are changing their eligibility guidelines and denying claims. In many cases, your health insurance provider now requires you to report Covid infections, and they use that information to reject coverage.

Meanwhile, you can now find Covid liability disclaimers almost everywhere, even on your concert tickets.

Here's Ticket Master:

An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people gather. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. You assume all risks, hazards, and dangers arising from or relating in any way to the risk of contracting COVID-19 or any other communicable disease or illness... whether occurring before, during, or after the event, however caused or contracted

When you go to a concert now, you "voluntarily waive all claims and potential claims against Ticketmaster, Live Nation, Event Providers, and their affiliated companies relating to such risks."

The most blunt, honest assessment of your Covid risk now exists in the terms and conditions section. You can find it buried somewhere in the legalese of every event you attend, every trip you take, and every restaurant you walk into. Our politicians lost no time passing Covid liability shields in virtually every state. They've always cared most about protecting businesses, not ordinary people like us. Meanwhile, these same politicians and corporations have pressured our media outlets to lie to us or deliver mixed messages, reporting on Covid's long-term threat while also dismissing it.

Four years into this pandemic, most people don't understand the stakes. Corporations have colluded with our governments to coordinate a massive public misinformation campaign. It sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theories, until you look at history. You see how far our governments have gone to downplay the risks of everything from radium and tobacco to saccharine, lead, and asbestos. Our governments took 10 years to mount anything approaching a serious response to the HIV crisis. Covid is the latest in a long list of public health failures. The only difference lies in the scope.

"You can start thinking about getting Covid almost as an accelerant to aging." That's Ziyad Al-Aly, director of the Clinical Epidemiology Center at Washington University. According to his landmark studies, multiple organs age 3-4 times faster after a Covid infection, even a mild one.

Yes, Covid ages you.

Several studies support this point. A study in Nature Communications found "increasing acceleration of epigenetic aging and telomere attrition in the sequential blood samples from healthy individuals and infected patients developing non-severe and severe Covid-19."

An article in Advanced Biomedical Research reviews several studies on the damage Covid causes, including telomere shaving. As the authors explain, "telomere shortening is a hallmark and major determinant of biological aging." Your telomeres preserve your genome.

They protect your DNA.

If your telomeres shorten, that hurts your body's ability to regenerate organ tissue. It leads to a decline in organ function and eventual organ failure. As the authors of the ABR piece conclude, these post-Covid complications "will lead to premature aging of many people in the world."

Covid also ages your immune system.

Back in January, Wesley Ely unpacked a major study in Nature. He declared, "We're immunocompromised... my spidey senses tell me to stay as protected as possible." Not only does Covid attack your white blood cells, it reprograms them to cause blood clots. More recently, Jeff Gilchrist compiled a major thread detailing Covid's impact on your immune system.

The drug manufacturer Merck now lists Covid as the third most common cause of lymphocytopenia, right behind HIV. This condition happens when your body doesn't produce enough white blood cells (lymphocytes) to fight off infections. As Merck says, "COVID-19 can directly infect lymphocytes, and a cytokine-related apoptosis of the cells is likely." A pharmaceutical giant like Merck doesn't say something like that unless it's definitive.

Over the last year, study after study has shown that Covid causes long-term damage and disruption to your immune system. A study in BMC Medicine found that even a mild case of Covid can disrupt your immune system for months. Another study in Cell found that the disruption can last for at least a year, maybe longer. It could be permanent.

Covid also causes long-term brain damage and disruption. According to the American Academy of Neurology, Covid is now "the third leading neurologic disorder." According to Harvard medical professor Anthony Komaroff, “COVID can damage the brain in many ways.”

A recent study in Nature Medicine identified two proteins responsible for memory and concentration problems in post-Covid patients. Researchers at NYU found that the virus can cause direct brain damage, but it more often triggers ongoing brain inflammation that could be treated if diagnosed. Covid survivors aren't making it up.

According to the American Medical Association, Covid brain fog remains a common and persistent problem for millions. Patients describe “the feeling that their brain is lost in a maze, and they can’t find their way back.”

Here’s Stanford neuroscientist Michelle Monje:

Inflammation in the brain can cause dysregulation of a number of different cell types and have lasting consequences to cognitive function. Understanding that when the pandemic struck and we saw how profoundly immunogenic, how profoundly inflammatory even relatively mild cases of Covid could be, I really worried about a neurological health crisis. And I think we’re watching that unfold right now. The rates of persistent cognitive symptoms in the people who’ve recovered from Covid is frankly alarming.

This Stanford neurologist goes on to describe the “remarkably high rate” of persistent cognitive problems that doctors are seeing in Covid survivors. They include struggles with focus and attention, information processing, and memory. Many of these survivors say, “I feel like I have dementia.”

Studies have shown that Covid elevates your risk of memory problems by 77 percent, even in mild cases. They’ve found that Covid can destroy synapses in your brain, resulting in cognitive impairment on par with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Another new study confirms that Covid can fuse brain cells, hampering their ability to function.

More studies are showing us that children and teenagers face the same risk of these conditions as adults.

So, we have a virus that's incredibly contagious. It kills some people immediately. For everyone else, it damages your brain. It damages your heart and blood vessels. It damages your immune system, making you vulnerable to other diseases. It shortens your telomeres. It ages you.

Instead of warning the public, our leaders have worked on behalf of corporations to shield them from liability. They've manipulated and distorted data to present an illusion of normalcy, while alleviating themselves from the responsibility to care for disabled Covid survivors. They've pressured the media to publish misleading, false stories encouraging everyone to move on with their lives and put themselves at risk for the sake of short-term profits.

It's that bad.

It's so bad the average person can't wrap their heads around it. They would rather comfort themselves with platitudes. They would rather gaslight their own family. They would rather fit in.

Sometimes, some of us wonder how we can deal with the constant stress and mental anguish of taking this disease seriously in a world where so many actively push misinformation. It's getting hard for us. Every day, you hear heartbreaking stories of people losing custody of their children and families turning their sons and daughters against them.

Then you revisit the evidence.

The science makes things simple. We don't have a choice. We have to keep fighting, and we have to keep protecting ourselves.

Every infection makes things worse. If we let Covid continue to spread like this, it will eventually turn every single healthy person into a disabled one. We're watching it happen. It doesn't even have to reach that point to upend our daily lives. There's already an intense labor shortage, so bad that states are rolling back child labor laws and putting 14-year-olds to work. We're seeing Adderall shortages and surges in nootropics (brain drugs) as people try to self-medicate their undiagnosed neurological disorders. Test scores are down. Traffic accidents are up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, worker productivity is "declining at the fastest rate in 75 years." Meanwhile, diseases from pneumonia to tuberculosis are filling up ERs and emptying pharmacies. Everywhere you look, you see the impact of Covid.

There's no end to the excuses. Opinion columnists and CNN pundits offer up learning loss and immunity debt.

They blame remote work.

The real answer is beating us with a sledgehammer. It's Covid. We have to keep saying it. We have to keep putting up billboards. We have to keep talking about it, even if we strategize the timing. We have to keep writing and posting about it, because it remains the biggest threat we'll face. If we don't deal with it, we won't have the health or brain power to face any of our other problems, from climate collapse to fascism.

There's hope.

Nasal vaccines are undergoing trials that completely stop transmission. Every day, doctors get closer to understanding the range of post-Covid conditions and developing treatments. We know how to protect ourselves with a combination of N95 masks, clean air technologies, and even nose sprays. More people are starting to wake up and protect themselves. Advocacy groups are winning fights over public health messaging. It will happen.

We just have to be relentless. We have to be as relentless as our arch-enemies, the anti-masking anti-vaxxers.

So, how do we keep going? How do we keep our communities from fracturing? What do we do when we're tired, and we think we can't go on any longer? We rest. Then we get back to it. We do it no matter how bad we're feeling, and no matter what it costs us. This is the fight of a generation. If we have history books in 50 years, this will be the story of the 2020s, how our governments tried to cover up the biggest public health failure in a century, how they went around privately telling each other, "Let them die." It will be the story of how grassroots movements fought back and won.

If we lose, there won't be any history books.

We don't have any other choice.

This is it.

OK Doomer is supported by readers. If you appreciate this work, please subscribe or buy me a coffee.

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