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A syndrome that does not exist, though the cause continues to do so… May 7, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Thought this very telling – of a piece with much Guardian coverage of the pandemic. A report on…

Scientists have expressed concern that residual anxiety over coronavirus may have led some people to develop compulsive hygiene habits that could prevent them from reintegrating into the outside world, even though Covid hospitalisations and deaths in the UK are coming down.

The concept of “Covid anxiety syndrome” was first theorised by professors last year, when Ana Nikčević, of Kingston University, and Marcantonio Spada, at London South Bank University, noticed people were developing a particular set of traits in response to Covid.

The anxiety syndrome is characterised by compulsively checking for symptoms of Covid, avoidance of public places, and obsessive cleaning, a pattern of “maladaptive behaviours” adopted when the pandemic started. Now researchers have raised the alarm that the obsessive worrying and threat avoidance, including being unwilling to take public transport or bleaching your home for hours, will not subside easily, even as Covid is controlled.

Which is all very well, and perhaps if people say six months or a year or two years out from the pandemic being controlled and functionally ‘over’ then we can perhaps be concerned. But the pandemic isn’t anywhere near fully controlled at the moment, and we are months away both on this island in Britain of that being the case. Note that:

Dr Victoria Salem, an endocrinologist and senior research clinical fellow at Imperial College London, who is working on a separate study with Spada, said she had seen some evidence of the syndrome in her practice, particularly in patients with high-risk factors for developing severe Covid. “I don’t think we know how big this syndrome is yet … we’re only going to start to find that out as lockdown eases,” she said. “I think that Covid syndrome is not going to be a huge problem, but it will affect a significant minority and we need to be mindful of it.”

One would think particularly those with high-risk factors would be sensible to be cautious in the next while. Not least because in the very same edition of the Guardian there was this warning:

A potential for coronavirus cases to “reignite” remains as many adults are still unvaccinated, a former chief scientific adviser to the UK’s government has warned.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the country was on the cusp of being able to loosen more restrictions.

But he warned that, with around 35% of adults not yet vaccinated, there was the potential for the “spark to reignite” and cases to rise again.

Prof Walport added: “We are on the cusp of being able to move to the next step of relaxation, it’s absolutely right that vaccines have been spectacularly successful but not everybody is protected.

We’ve got 35% of adults who are not vaccinated and 60% who have only had one dose and the truth is the virus has not gone away.

“The mistake that has been made repeatedly really is relaxing just slightly too early. What we need to do is get the numbers right down, it’s important that we don’t act as an incubator for variant cases that might be able to resist immunity.”


1. Aonrud ⚘ - May 7, 2021

I’m not sure the article is guilty of eliding, say, avoiding restaurants because you don’t trust the government’s decision to open them, and bleaching your whole house. You have to distinguish between pathologising a normal degree of caution and anxiety in the exceptional circumstances of a pandemic (which the open-it-all-up crowd are keen to do) and the fact that the last year is inevitably going to lead to more anxiety disorders and OCD.

I’m not sure why it’s a new syndrome though, rather than a catalyst for existing diagnoses (but I haven’t dived in to the medical paper either 😉 ).


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