The week before Thanksgiving, Barbara O & # 39; Donnell developed a pitiful cough.
"It was just very bad and constant," says O & # 39; Donnell, 62. "I would turn purple," gasped. She could scarcely go up the hills near her home outside of Philadelphia. Although she is a smoker, she was healthy and strong – "I never get the flu" – and had never experienced anything like it.
It felt like my lungs were so full that I couldn't make it, she says.
Two weeks of rest at home and the illness disappeared as soon as it came. Two months later, California reported the first case of Covid-19 in the country that was not acquired through travel or direct contact with someone who had been abroad. Three weeks later, Philadelphia closed non-essential businesses and issued an order to stay at home. O & # 39; Donnell's job as a private helper for an elderly patient in a nursing home was put on hold – the nursing home only allowed its own staff on the premises.
When she was sitting in her apartment, the thought came to her: "What if it were here before you thought it was?" She was amazed. Was that a cough?
The virus was here before anyone thought it, we know it now. Health officials in Santa Clara County, south of San Francisco, recently found that at least two people who died in early and mid-February tested positive for the virus. But that doesn't answer the common question that concerns anyone who has recently – or even recently – had any covid symptoms:
I had it I think I had it.
"I received emails from hundreds, maybe thousands, of people saying," I'm sure I've had it, "said Eran Bendavid, an associate professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases and studied at Stanford University Covid-19.
"I'm 99 percent sure I had it," says Janet Truchard, 58, who woke up to fever, dry cough, migraines, and chest pain on January 15 at her Las Vegas home. She visited several doctors who prescribed various antibiotics and diagnosed her with sinusitis and then allergies. The cough persisted until March 25, but a chest X-ray came back clearly.
Thinkihadititis is a disease that affects people who suffer from Kovid-like diseases that have affected them long before the onset of the coronavirus. It happens when parts of the brain gather news and scientific evidence that inspires hope – oh hey, maybe I've already done it! – and fear – oh god, maybe I gave it to a group of people.
Like Covid-19, thinkihadititis has infected some high profile patients. "Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli said on page 6 that he was "sure" that he had contracted the virus in early February. A star in the reality series "Love Island" believes she had "the & # 39; Rona" when the show was shot in South Africa in January. And Patti Stanger, star of the Bravo show "Millionaire Matchmaker", was plagued by shallow breathing, fever, tiredness and nausea after a January vacation in Miami, even though she had flown with a face mask on the advice of her nail technician. She had to skip the Grammys and had a panic attack when her fever rose to 102.
"I didn't get up in three weeks," she says. "I didn't eat anything. I lived from bone broth and crackers."
Later, when the news came that the corona virus had arrived in America earlier than we ever knew, "I thought I could be one of those people," she says.
"I heard from all these friends who said: & # 39; I think I had it, I think I had it. & # 39;
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Nobody wants to have Covid-19, but everyone wants it.
And recent research suggests that many people already had it without knowing it. Epidemiologists have said that the number of infections significantly exceeds the official number of cases, possibly by a factor of 10 or more, because humans can be asymptomatic carriers of the disease and not every victim has been tested.
The World Health Organization has warned against the assumption that those who already had the disease cannot get it again. Researchers are still learning about the protective benefits that the disease's antibodies could offer survivors.
But after two long months of bad news about the painful effects and unpredictable lethality of Covid-19 – the sudden crashes, the mysterious strokes, the widespread attacks on the body – that could be accused of being optimistic about whether they had You already joined the ranks of the restored?
JoAnna Fischer is certain that she had Covid-19. She lost her sense of smell and had coughing and chest pain so severe for three months that she needed additional oxygen. Her husband had respiratory problems and her cat too.
One problem: Fischer got sick in September when she lived in northeastern Pennsylvania. That is much earlier than epidemiologists believe the disease could have come to the United States.
"There is a 0.0% chance that # SARSCoV2 was in the US in or before November 2019 with community broadcast," tweeted Trevor Bedford, a computer biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who shared the genetic code and followed the spread of the virus.
Fischer is not ready to give up her theory. "If you think about how this thing spread so quickly," says the 63-year-old, "it couldn't have come here until December."
Bendavid, the Stanford professor, said a person who wrote to him believed he discovered the virus in 2018. "I think that extends it," says Bendavid.
Thinkihadititis usually stretches the imagination to a certain extent. After all, covid-19 shares some symptoms with seasonal flu and frequent allergies. Currently, less than 20 percent of the Covid 19 tests are positive. This emerges from data reported to disease control and prevention centers, suggesting that the vast majority of people who believed they had it, even in the midst of the pandemic, did not Not.
To the extent that beating Covid-19 is better than wondering if you are one of those who are hospitalized, thinkihadititis can be a form of positive thinking. People are hardwired to expect positive results, says Tali Sharot, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, who examines optimism and expectations.
"If there is anything we want to believe in, we are very good at interpreting the evidence to support that belief," says Sharot.
The opposite is also true. "Let's say there was a doctor who said that if you had it before, it would be more likely that you would get it back and it would be even more dangerous," says the professor. If this were the case, people would "probably look back on their illnesses and interpret certain symptoms as definitely not covid-19".
Whether it is a consolation or a source of fear, thinkihadititis is a state of limbo.
The good news? There is a cure.
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"The only way to know is to do an antibody test," says Rachael Ayscue. "And nowhere do I know where there will be one."
Ayscue, 47, lives in a suburb of Raleigh, North Carolina. On January 6th she felt sick and it wasn't long before she coughed so much that it sometimes hurt to breathe. Then her daughter also fell ill. Raleigh didn't see his first confirmed Covid case until March 3, but Ayscue wondered if the research triangle technicians had traveled to Asia over the holidays and brought the virus back. (Epidemiologists believe that the earliest American cases come from Europe, not Asia.)
Antibody tests can relieve the fever of doubt. Also known as serological tests, they determine whether a patient's blood contains antibodies, which are proteins that help us fight infection. The presence of antibodies means that the patient's immune system has already been exposed to the virus.
These tests are now becoming available nationwide, although experts warn that their accuracy may vary.
Since offering dates for antibody testing, telemedicine provider PlushCare has "seen a fairly overwhelming response from (those interested), especially in more affected areas like New York," said James Wantuck, chief medical officer and co-doctor of the platform's founder .
PlushCare doctors remind patients that immunity cannot be taken for granted and that they must continue to take social distance and other protective measures. And if the tests are negative, some patients who are confident in their self-diagnosis and fear possible inaccuracies in the tests may not believe them.
"Some of the patients are certainly disappointed," said Wantuck. "I think everyone wants this in their rearview mirror or a sense of relief."
Fischer, the woman who got sick last September, says she can't be convinced easily. "If I'm tested," she says, "and I don't have antibodies, I would probably ask for another test."
Ayscue says she plans to do an antibody test if she can, but she doesn't need one to feel back in life as usual. She doesn't hesitate to go to the grocery store, sometimes without a mask. She says she supports the demonstrators who have demonstrated against strict blocking rules in North Carolina.
"I decided not to be afraid," she says.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)