When many people dismiss COVID-19 as unworthy of needing a vaccine, they almost always ignore the effects of long COVID, the long-term symptoms and sequelae that tend to persist or appear after the typical convalescence period of COVID-19. And new peer-reviewed research shows that long COVID is associated with hair loss and sexual dysfunction — every male that sees this will be running as fast as they can to get the vaccine.
But on a more serious note, long COVID is linked to a lot of serious long-term consequences that are often dismissed by anti-vaccine and COVID-19 deniers.
Let’s take a look at this new paper and review the results of their analysis. The basic result is that long COVID is scary.
Long COVID paper
In a paper published on 25 July 2022 in Nature Medicine, Krishnarajah Nirantharakumar, MBBS, MPH, of the University of Birmingham in England, and colleagues found that 62 symptoms were significantly associated with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection after 12 weeks.
The researchers evaluated 486,149 adults with confirmed COVID-19 from January 2020 to April 2021 who were not hospitalized with an infection, and 1,944,580 propensity score-matched adults with no recorded evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in U.K primary care records. The researchers also assessed relative differences in 115 symptoms 12 weeks after people in the COVID group were infected.
The symptoms with the highest hazard ratios (HR):
- anosmia, loss of sense of smell (HR=6.49, or 6.49X higher risk than in a population without long COVID-19),
- hair loss (HR=3.99),
- sneezing (HR=2.77),
- ejaculation difficulty (HR=2.63),
- reduced libido, or sex drive (HR=2.36),
- shortness of breath at rest (HR=2.20),
- fatigue (HR =.92),
- pleuritic chest pain (HR=1.86),
- hoarse voice (HR=1.78)
- fever (HR=1.75)
Twenty of the 62 reported symptoms in the paper were among the 33 symptoms listed in the World Health Organization (WHO) clinical case definition of long COVID. Overall, 5.4% of people with COVID and 4.3% of people without COVID reported at least one symptom included in the WHO case definition. The CDC also has a commonly used definition of long COVID.
Women had an increased risk of long COVID symptoms than men (HR=1.52). Furthermore, ages over 30 were associated with a higher risk of long COVID symptoms, but after adjusting for baseline covariates, people ages 30-39 had a 6% lower risk, and people ages 70 and older had a 25% lower risk than those aged 18-30 years. In other words, it appears that long COVID appears to target younger adults.
However, there were other important risk factors for long COVID. Ethnic minority groups, socioeconomic deprivation, smoking, obesity, and other comorbidities have a statistically significant impact on the risk for long COVID.
Long COVID is a serious complication of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, but it seems to be ignored by a lot of the anti-vaccine crowd. They ignore the fact that long COVID is not only linked to minor symptoms like anosmia but is also linked to serious long-term diseases like type 2 diabetes. But if I have to stress hair loss and sexual dysfunction as sequelae of long COVID to convince recalcitrant males to get the vaccine, then that’s what I’ll do.
Because we know that the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of long COVID.
- Subramanian A, Nirantharakumar K, Hughes S, Myles P, Williams T, Gokhale KM, Taverner T, Chandan JS, Brown K, Simms-Williams N, Shah AD, Singh M, Kidy F, Okoth K, Hotham R, Bashir N, Cockburn N, Lee SI, Turner GM, Gkoutos GV, Aiyegbusi OL, McMullan C, Denniston AK, Sapey E, Lord JM, Wraith DC, Leggett E, Iles C, Marshall T, Price MJ, Marwaha S, Davies EH, Jackson LJ, Matthews KL, Camaradou J, Calvert M, Haroon S. Symptoms and risk factors for long COVID in non-hospitalized adults. Nat Med. 2022 Jul 25. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01909-w. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35879616.