2023-11-03 General

I read a paper which referred to “short COVID” to the acute, initial illness — y’know, the thing that lasts a week or two — and I think I might start using that term!


I haven’t talked about Long COVID biomarkers much because most biomarkers are relatively obscure proteins that you and I have never heard of, and whose functions are sometimes unclear and/or multiple. However, be advised that there has been a lot of progress recently in finding biomarkers. In addition to the serotonin paper that came out recently that I talked about last week, this preprint, this paper, this paper, this paper, and this paper all found differences in the blood of Long COVID patients compared to controls. (And that’s just in the past three months, and just in papers I know about.) So stuff is happening!

Speaking of stuff happening, this paper says that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help (some) Long COVID patients. About two-thirds of patients in their study had a good-to-strong response, a quarter had a moderate response, and a tenth had no response.

Note that the different patients took different SSRIs as prescribed by their doctors. (Presumably they got different SSRIs because of the different drugs they were already on and/or their current health conditions.)

This paper from a US Veteran’s Administration study found that Paxlovid didn’t help prevent Long COVID except that it did reduce thromboembolism and pulmonary embolism by 35% (which I classify as COVID-Related Excess Deaths and Sickness, but there’s no standardized terminology).

This paper from China using data from multiple Northern European countries found that people whose initial COVID-19 illness kept them in bed for more than seven days had the highest rates of lingering symptoms, while those who were never bedridden had the lowest rates of lingering symptoms.

This paper from Denmark found that 57% of Long COVID patients hasn’t gotten better, even after 1.5 years, with no difference between patients infected with different COVID-19 strains.

Mitigation Measures

This paper from Greece which made simulations of cruise ship cabins — found the counter-intuitive results that more ventilation was not always the best thing! They said that more ventilation led to more evaporation -> lower particle size -> the drops could spread farther.

I think this is specific to an environment when you have air recirculation: I can’t see how replacing more contaminated air with more fresh air could be bad.


This paper from Hong Kong says that Paxlovid reduces the risk of unpleasant outcomes in pregnant women. A woman’s chance of having even one of the maternal morbidity and mortality index (MMMI) components was 0.58% in the Paxlovid group and 2.05% in the control group.

Mitigation Measures

This article from the UK says that the PPE they get there (which is probably the same that we get here) doesn’t fit many women well, despite women making up the majority of health care workers. As the article says, “[…] PPE was ‘designed to be unisex’. Which is all very well, but bodies aren’t unisex.” This is dangerous, for both the workers and the patients!

The US Environmental Protection agency did measurements of a few Corsi-Rosenthal boxes and found that they had a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 234.


This paper from Canada reports that patients with a particular fatty acid profile in their blood are much more likely to die than those without those particular biomarkers. This is useful because that can help them decide which patients to focus their attention on.

Fatty acid tests appear to be relatively standard (here, for example, is the Mayo Clinic’s page for ordering a test).


Bizarre! This article from China reports that there was a big jump in situs inversus in fetuses (which means that their organs are places in a mirror image) about four months after their big COVID-19 spike.

It’s still a small number of fetuses, and situs inversus usually doesn’t really affect someone’s health much (though e.g. appendicitis can take a while because the pain is on “the wrong side”, as happened to my mom’s cousin), but it is deeply weird.

Number of mirror babies in two large Chinese cities

Pandemic Side-Effects

This paper from UK found that the rate of cognitive decline in people over 50 increased dramatically after the pandemic started — and persisted. Partly this was a result of getting COVID, but partly it was due to increases in alcohol consumption, loneliness, and depression with a decrease in exercise (all known risk factors for dementia).