Super fit and unafraid of COVID? Think again, as lingering symptoms often debilitate the healthiest

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Credit: Washington Post/Getty Images

Like many healthy people, [57-year-old Brendan Delaney] figured his symptoms, a mild fever and a cough, would pass soon enough. Instead, he experienced debilitating aftereffects, such as fatigue and breathlessness, which many are now calling long Covid. Seven months later, he is still not back to normal.

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As a second wave of infections grows, so it follows that the number of long Covid cases is bound to increase. Although this clearly has implications for public health and the economy, it has been almost nowhere in the broader policy debate.

That narrative has focused largely on minimizing deaths and hospitalizations. But most long Covid patients weren’t hospitalized and didn’t have pre-existing conditions. This should throw some cold water on the idea of dispensing with restrictions and allowing immunity to build up among the young while shielding the vulnerable — an approach that won more adherents as lockdown fatigue set in. Going in this direction would be far more costly than many perhaps realize.

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“We need to control this virus not because of the risk that Granny may catch it and die, or your uncle may end up in ICU, but because fit, healthy people without any comorbid conditions who are young can end up having their lives wrecked,” Delaney said.

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