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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Ed Yong on Long Covid and ME/CFS

Ed Yong has been one of the most important journalists covering long covid and ME/CFS, beginning in 2021 when many psychiatrists were still claiming that both illnesses were manifestations of depression. His new essay in the New York Times is a must read for anyone interested in the sociology of disease. Here is an excerpt:

Covering long Covid solidified my view that science is not the objective, neutral force it is often misconstrued as. It is instead a human endeavor, relentlessly buffeted by our culture, values and politics. As energy-depleting illnesses that disproportionately affect women, long Covid and M.E./C.F.S. are easily belittled by a sexist society that trivializes women’s pain, and a capitalist one that values people according to their productivity.

Like the pandemic writ large, long Covid is not just a health problem. It is a social one, and must also be understood as such.

Dismissal and gaslighting — you’re just depressed; it’s in your head — are among the worst aspects of long Covid, and can be as crushing as the physical suffering. They’re hard to fight because the symptoms can be so beyond the realm of everyday experience as to seem unbelievable, and because those same symptoms can sap energy and occlude mental acuity. 

Many long-haulers have told me that they’ve used my work to finally get through to skeptical loved ones, employers and doctors — a use that, naïvely, I hadn’t previously considered.

The entire essay is here, paywalled but most law school libraries probably have subscriptions.

Readers of The Faculty Lounge may recall that I have written much the same, beginning in 2015. Here is an excerpt:

I have not spoken much about ME/CFS, even to close friends, because it has been very hard to bring myself just to say the word “fatigue,” which is a trivializing and demeaning description of the illness. People with ME/CFS are not tired or worn out in any ordinary sense; rather we are neurologically disabled.

Almost every other ME/CFS sufferer has at one time or another been referred to a psychiatrist, after being told dismissively that “there is nothing physically wrong with you.”

Too many employers, insurance carriers, schools, and physicians have failed to recognize the crippling nature of this disease – because “everyone gets fatigued” – and that is not going to change unless we are willing to acknowledge and talk about it openly.

Sometimes, sick people need respect more than anything else.

If you have the stomach to read about some of the medical dismissiveness of long covid, you can begin here.

Comments are open.

Posted by Steve Lubet on December 12, 2023 at 05:14 AM | Permalink


That should read: It is only logical to assume that chronic fatigue, which is a physical condition will affect one’s mental health.

There is some good news.
“Notably, COVID-19 has a peculiar prognosis in severe patients with iron dysregulation and hypoxia which is still poorly understood. Studies have shown abnormally low serum iron levels in severe infection but a high iron overload in lung fibrotic tissue.”
-Iron in COVID-19 and reciprocal evolution of … – PubMed
But perhaps a treatment that may be beneficial?


Additional disclosure, my beloved sister Joan, who had experienced chronic fatigue for several years, was finally diagnosed with polycythemia vera and died, a few years after, at the age of 42. Shortly after, my mother was diagnosed with hemochromatosis. It is because of my beloved sister’s death that I began to be interested in the possible connection between polycythemia and hemochromatosis. It took some twenty years for researchers to make that connection, but in the meantime I became familiar with the importance or iron regulation in maintaining health and fighting disease, and the bajillion ways iron deregulation can have an effect on or affect the human body.

Will it take some legal action to get the CDC to finally address the issue of COVID 19 and iron deregulation?
God only knows. I do think it would be a good idea, however, to provide “whistle blower” protection for Dr. Judy Mikovits, and see if she might provide us with some valuable information.


Posted by: N.D. | Dec 14, 2023 10:50:13 AM

P.S., I forgot to add this study, Professor.


God Bless!

Posted by: N.D. | Dec 12, 2023 2:25:50 PM

One of my favorite writers working today, and such an important topic. Thanks for posting.

Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Dec 12, 2023 2:12:46 PM

It is only logical to assume that chronic fatigue, which is a physical condition will effect one’s mental health.

Here is a recent article regarding “Long Covid”:


One would also think it logical to assume that since it is true that iron deregulation occurs in certain individuals with Covid 19,


it is possible that by targeting the Spike Protein of Covid 19, that mimics HEPCIDIn and includes the addition of a FURIN receptor, the vaccine could also result in iron deregulation in certain individuals since FURIN regulates, HEPCIDIn, and HEPCIDIn regulates IRON, and levels of FURIN, HEPCIDIn, and IRON, can differ among individuals.

Some other things to consider when studying “Long Covid”, is the possible role of FURIN deficiency:






I am not an expert on anything. I have a degree in Elementary Education and completed the course work for a Paralegal Certificate. I have been studying the iron disorder, hemochromatosis, for sometime, as my family has a history of the disease, and I have some understanding of how the proper balance of iron is necessary for maintaining health and fighting disease.I have Prayed for God’s help in finding solutions to the many problems that have occurred as a result of Covid 19, and am hopeful that some Good will come from investigating and researching it’s origins.

I hope this information will be of some help to you, and I hope all of you will find a competent and compassionate Doctor, who will be willing to listen to your concerns and help you in your quest for restoring your health.


Posted by: N.D. | Dec 12, 2023 12:19:21 PM

Steve, thank you for continuing to post about this. It is an important topic and your work is not unnoticed.

Posted by: anon | Dec 12, 2023 9:09:40 AM

Starting this past spring after a long string of serious illnesses, I begun to feel a constant tiredness. No amount of sleep would alleviate. And it's never gone away. At all times of the day, I feel on the verge of falling asleep. I've pretty much forgotten what it's like to feel like I'm actually living life. I don't bother talking about it because my close family members have all dismissed it as "we all get tired as we get older." I'm not even 30 years old yet. It's tanked my productivity and I'm nervous about going on the market next year; I don't know if I have the mental capacity anymore to make it through, say, a job talk. I've been in a VAP for four months and have only managed to write half a law review article. Not even sure if I should bother bringing it up to my doctor in my annual check-up.

Posted by: AspiringLawProfessor | Dec 12, 2023 8:52:55 AM

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