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Getting sick all the time? Don't (necessarily) blame COVID-19
By Jamie Ducharme
Health Correspondent

Over the last few months, I’ve seen the same thing pop up over and over on social media: people feel like they’re getting sick more often than they did before the pandemic, and many of them don’t think the timing is a coincidence. They blame COVID-19 for changing their immune systems.

It’s not such a far-fetched idea. There are studies that show scary-sounding immune-system changes after a case of COVID-19, and other viruses—like measles and HIV—are known to cause long-lasting immune damage. Could SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, do the same? So far, experts told me, the evidence suggests the answer is no. The virus can leave a stamp on the immune system, particularly after severe cases, but not in a way that suggests widespread immunodeficiency.

All those extra illnesses people are reporting could be due to increased awareness of respiratory disease, exposure to different viral strains than those that circulated before the pandemic, or just plain bad luck. But, comfortingly, none of the experts I interviewed thought COVID-related damage was the culprit.


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"The whole Instagram influencer phase where it was very much about comparing yourself to others...was probably some of the most toxic stuff online, with the pressures of performing social identity on there. I think that's one reason why [young people] gravitate toward TikTok. There's some other toxicity over there, but it's different."

—Jennifer Grygiel, associate professor of communications at Syracuse University

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Today's newsletter was written by Jamie Ducharme and edited by Angela Haupt.