By George Monbiot in The Guardian.
Rejoice! A mystery has been solved. We now have an explanation for long Covid, a condition afflicting many thousands of people. A super-spreader has been identified. Important as this finding is, I’m reluctant to call for the vector to be eradicated. Why? Because it’s me.
In a presentation to the reinsurance giant Swiss Re, Michael Sharpe, a professor of psychological medicine at the University of Oxford and founder of a long Covid clinic, proposed that one of the causes of the syndrome was “social factors”. The social factor at the top of his list was an article I wrote for the Guardian, describing the suffering of patients with the condition.
I listed the symptoms of long Covid and compared some of them to myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), the debilitating condition that afflicts around a quarter of a million people in the UK. Press coverage like this, Sharpe claimed, as well as the work of support groups and sympathetic doctors, could induce people to believe they had the illness, thereby spreading it. Long Covid, he appeared to suggest, is partly a psychological condition, so “the best treatment is psychologically informed rehabilitation”. This, we can only hope, will cure people of the fearful pox of Guardian journalism.