We learn more about Covid-19 every day. The way it passes between people, the symptoms, who’s at risk, and the speed of the spread. One thing we don’t know is how long it takes to fully recover.
Seemingly everyday, there is a new story of a high-profile public figure opening up about how long it took their body to fully return to health. Actors like Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad and pro athletes like Paul Pogba of Manchester United have recently shared their stories. Some people fear they will never recover fully. We just. Don’t. Know. This disease barely existed a year ago.
That brings us to today’s story and what waits for us after the Covid-19 vaccine.
Covid-19 “long-haulers,” as they have become known, were in a lot of cases completely healthy before they got sick. After the virus left, its effects didn’t. They are dealing with “long-haul” symptoms like breathing problems, muscle aches, dizziness, brain fog, and more.
Family and friends don’t have the emotional bandwidth to listen to them after months and months. Doctors seemingly blow them off, prescribing anti-depressants or aspirin.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for December 8, 2020. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.
In response, this growing population of people — one study found it could be as high as 1 in 10 people who have had Covid0-19 — is seeking support among each other. With nearly 15 million Covid-19 cases in the US, the number of “long haulers” could be as high as 1.5 million people.
Inverse staff writer Ali Pattillo spent the last few months interviewing long-haulers and going to a support group — one of the first of its kind in the US — and came upon a burgeoning public health crisis.
After the vaccine, a new problem awaits: more than a million people whose health is shaky, whose muscles are stiff, whose breathing is difficult, whose brains are hazy. You need to read this story to know about what challenges are next.
“I think anybody who thinks we’ve got Covid figured out should read this,” Pattillo told me on Monday. “It’s clear we don’t have it figured out yet. It’s also clear that even if you don’t have an extremely severe case of Covid-19, you can have lasting symptoms and your life can really change.”
Question of the week: This week and for the rest of December, we’re looking for your one-sentence predictions for 2021. We will publish our favorites in a special article in the new year. Send your suggestions, with “2021 Predictions” as the subject line, to [email protected]
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Watch the video →
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The “treasure box” — “We collected the treasure box.” Those were the words of Dr. Yuichi Tsuda, project manager for an asteroid sample-and-return mission conducted by the Japanese space agency, JAXA. The tiny capsule (it weighed only 35 pounds) landed in the South Australia desert on Sunday containing a chunk of the asteroid Ryugu, which is about 7 million miles away from Earth right now. The asteroid contains the stuff of life — carbon and water! — and scientists who think asteroids like it populated the galaxy can teach us about the formation of life on Earth and other planets.
You have to see the photos, too →
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The might of “might” — The gulf of understanding between a fact and a possibility can be huge. It’s the difference between knowing we do have safe and effective coronavirus vaccines and thinking that we might have them.
But in language, the difference between a fact and a possibility is small. Insert one or two words, and something you think is set in stone can become hazy. According to new research, the words “might” and “may” have a huge effect on how we understand speech. (I love this type of story. You have to read the rest of it by staff writer Emma Betuel.)
The brain loves facts →
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Flashing lights — Imagine if traffic lights could warn drivers of accidents before they happen. It’s exactly the research being done in Poland, which made its debut at a conference on Monday. The signs calculate the frequency of sound waves from passing cars to measure traffic. From that data they could tell you to proceed as normal, or that there was congestion ahead.
Read more about the smart signs of the future →
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That is all for this Tuesday edition of Inverse Daily. I’m Nick Lucchesi, the executive editor at Inverse. Thanks for reading, and before I dip, let me tell you to sign up for our new premium newsletter called Musk Reads+, which is chock-full of original reporting and analysis on Tesla, SpaceX, hyperloop, and the other enterprises of Elon Musk. It’s content that is only for paying members, and is perfect for Tesla investors, SpaceX enthusiasts, and yes, even critics of Elon Musk. It’s a wholly independent editorial operation by Mike Brown, Inverse staff writer. Subscribe here.