Tribune. This question is asked in a published study in the November 8 issue of JAMA Intern Med. The article replies that yes, indeed, the long Covid is often imaginary, since more than half of the people who think they have it have, in reality, never had the Covid-19. The conclusion of the article is that the task of physicians is to“Identify cognitive and behavioral mechanisms that can be targeted to relieve symptoms” [de ces malades imaginaires]. This article was widely covered in the mainstream media.
the JAMA Intern Med is a prestigious journal, but scientists know that you should never judge the quality of an article about a journal’s reputation, because some work published in prestigious journals could never be confirmed afterwards. It is therefore necessary to read and analyze this article.
This work is remarkable for the investment that was necessary to collect a whole series of information from 26,823 people who all reported symptoms that lasted at least two months and attributed to a long Covid. The investigation took place between March and November 2020, which may come as a surprise because, in March 2020, no one was talking about Covid long, nor had been able to suffer from symptoms already for two months.
We now know that the least bad way to know if someone is infected is to get a positive PCR test in the acute phase of the disease.
Unfortunately, the results of the analyzes are totally unusable, because this work accumulates methodological errors. A fundamental rule of the scientific method is to compare its experimental data with those of the literature, in order to be able to discuss possible convergences or divergences, and to seek to understand the latter. On the other hand, in this epidemiological study on the long Covid, large by the size of the population questioned, the main previous work is ignored.
We now know that the least bad way to know if someone is infected is to get a positive PCR test in the acute phase of the disease. After this phase, the test is, a priori, no longer positive. Can you use HIV status to prove that you have been infected? If anti-SARS antibodies are present in the blood, then there has been an infection (or vaccination, if applicable). But the absence of antibodies cannot prove the absence of infection. Indeed, in addition to the sensitivity limits of the serological test itself, some individuals have a very weak antibody response, in particular those who will have a long Covid. Finally, this production of anti-SARS antibodies is generally transient, the antibodies decrease sharply in a few months, or even disappear, and this is precisely the reason why the 3e vaccination is being generalized.
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“Is the long Covid really an imaginary disease? ”