In a good (and short) thread on the Twitterz, biologist Nicholas Bauer argues:
Yes, let’s talk about how vaccines will mean fewer hospitalizations and deaths for a given number of cases!
But please don’t act like a virus that, even in moderate form, can put people down and out for 2+ weeks and possibly leave lasting damage isn’t worth our concern.
One of the many mistakes we have made during the pandemic is the failure to rigorously collect information on the severity of long term symptoms–or for that matter, simply defining what ‘long’ means in any standardized way. Suppose we had said any of a certain set of symptoms that occur after two weeks would be defined as ‘long COVID’ (quibble all you like about the definition, but let’s just say there was a definition). Now imagine we had tallies not only of cases, hosptalizations, and deaths, but also of ‘long COVIDs.’ I can’t help but think more people would be viewing this disease as dangerous.
Put another way, throughout the pandemic, we have argued about whether COVID-19 is ‘like the flu’ (answer: it’s not, dumbass). Maybe we should have been arguing about whether it was like polio: most people who get it don’t have long term illness, some do (with varying levels of severity), and some die.
The data one collects defines the context for policy, and we have never collected adequate data on long COVID in the U.S., to our detriment.