Diminished lung capacity, not death, the scariest aspect of Covid-19

Afterthoughts: Keep Going by Austin Kleon

Afterthoughts: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

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The longer that Covid-19 persists in circulating among the population, the richer our evidence for being to evaluate the longer term effects of the virus. One piece of (previously) anecdotal evidence that appears to be gaining in scientific support is the nontrivial potential for those who have contracted Covid-19 to have diminished lung capacity.

There are numerous threads on reddit which contain these sorts of anecdotes. In a lot of cases, the individuals identified themselves as being otherwise healthy and relatively fit. The worrying thing is that weeks and even months after contracting the virus, this struggle to even do regular activities like walking up the stairs or moving stuff around the house proves difficult.

What is perhaps an overlooked component of this effect is that as our lung capacity diminishes, so does our ability to put our body under physical stress. Even simply walking down to the shops for a cup of coffee may be challenging, let alone playing recreational sports or any other form of exercise. This is what scares me the most. The potentiality of a life without being able to find enjoyment in physical endeavours is such a terrifying prospect, especially so now that I have fallen in love with running everyday.

That statistician in me, however, feels the need to pull myself back a little bit. Given that we are not even a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a little premature to be expounding on the long-term effects without any concrete peer-reviewed studies. But given how numerous the anecdotes of this reduced lung capacity are in those infected Covid-19, it suggests that this may be a nontrivial long-term outcome. The prospect of that alone, at this stage of the scientific process, is enough to scare me into being the healthiest version of myself that I can be.

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