CHARBONNEAU – Mysterious Long COVID. This week, the medical theory

(Image: Pixabay)

LAST WEEK I DESCRIBED the “neurological” theory connecting the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Long COVID.

I call it neurological just for the sake of giving it a label. As you’ll discover the alternate theory, which I’m calling “medical,” also has neurological roots.

I hope this is not confusing because, despite the fact they are both scientific, they come to quite different conclusions.

One uses research into the puzzling characteristics of the mind and consciousness. The other uses research on how viruses infect the brain and central nervous system.

Discovery of this connection is not a trivial matter: hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from Long COVID. They have persistent fatigue, “brain fog” or difficulty concentrating or remembering things. They experience palpitations, dizziness, headache, insomnia, and lack of mood regulation. They suffer from a “energy crash” after only mild exercise.

To recap what I’m calling the “neurological” theory, Long COVID derives its biological roots from research done in the study of the mind and consciousness.

We are not passive observers. What we consciously perceive is the result of expectations. The world is “invented” by our brains by resolving perceptions.

Despite appearances, our minds and consciousness are not real. They are constructions of our brain. We may wish it weren’t so but when the brain dies so does the mind.

Our brains not only create what we perceive as reality, they also mediate the health of our bodies. A good example of this is the placebo where expectations can have real physical effects.

So, if we expect to have Long COVID then there is a possiblity that we will.
What I’m calling the “medical” theory has a strong neurological link, says science reporter Stephani Sutherland:

“The most common, persistent and disabling symptoms of long COVID are neurological. Some are easily recognized as brain or nerve-related . . .(Scientific American, March , 2023).”

The neurological mechanism of the medical theory is not through the expectations experienced in the mind and consciousness but through postviral syndromes such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mononucleosis.

The medical theory doesn’t describe symptoms as “psychosomatic,” as the other does because that would suggest that symptoms aren’t real.

Instead, they are “neuropsychiatric.”

It seems to me that the difference between the two theories is one of psychological (mental) on one hand versus psychiatric (medical) on the other.

Three potential pathways, in which viruses have a structural effect, are proposed.

One pathway for viruses enter the brain is through the olfactory bulb in the nose. Neurons from the brain line the nose and can easily carry viruses. Once in the brain, breathing and the heart can be affected. Genetic material from viruses can remain for a long time.

Another is through blood vessel walls, and from there to the spinal cord; then to the brain where they cause damaging inflammation.

A third way is an overreaction of the immune system which can damage tissue around brain blood vessels.

In both theories, our brains provoke Long COVID; either as a response to expectations or as a result of physical assault.

Until we find out for sure, Long COVID remains mysterious.

David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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