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Date: 9/21/2021 2:47:46 PM ( 4 mon ) ... viewed 274 times
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The Struggle to Define Long COVID
Patients and skeptics are squaring off. Can research heal the rift?
By Dhruv Khullar
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Berrent suggested that COVID might come to be regarded not as a respiratory disease but as a neurological one. “I fear that there is a higher viral load involved with the Delta variant and it congregates in the nose and mouth,” she said. “What happens? Just using common sense, it goes up the nose, it knocks out the olfactory system, and what’s right next to it? The vagus nerve, which controls all of our automatic functioning. . . . We know that this virus crosses the blood-brain barrier”—a critical layer of immune defense that prevents microorganisms from infecting the central nervous system—“and we are seeing evidence of direct brain damage.”
The interviewer spoke up: “Now, I thought there was pretty clear evidence that we don’t know yet whether it’s crossing the blood-brain barrier.” (In fact, many infections begin in the mouth and nose without affecting the nervous system, and, although research has suggested that the spike protein may breach the protective barrier in mice, there is no conclusive evidence that the coronavirus infects the brain in humans.)
“We know,” Berrent responded.
Elsewhere in the program, Berrent took issue with the C.D.C.’s decision not to investigate breakthrough COVID cases that didn’t require hospitalization. “There is no such thing as a mild case of COVID,” she said, as she often does. “Let me explain what they mean by ‘mild.’ They mean encephalitis. They mean COVID pneumonia. They mean end-stage organ failure.”
The interviewer paused, a quizzical look on her face. “So you’re saying that end-stage organ failure is counted as mild?” she asked.
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