In the fall of 2020, the world was reeling under the onslaught of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. In the United States, more than 4 million cases were reported in November, more than double the number in October. Hospitals were overwhelmed. On the Thursday before Thanksgiving, 1,962 people died.
Now, despite more than 1 million deaths in the United States and more than 6 million worldwide, it is almost easy to forget that the onslaught of the pandemic continues. That is, until you hear the story of Belinda Hankins.
Hankins has long been diagnosed with COVID, a collection of symptoms that can include fatigue, brain fog, pain and dizziness, and that affects 1 in 5 people infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to one conservative estimate. She talked with Science News staff writer Meghan Rosen during her assignment at the long-term COVID clinic at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
“We’ve been hearing for months to estimate how many people have long-term COVID,” Rosen told me. “I wanted to go beyond the United States to find out what it’s like for patients and doctors living with this.”
He has been involved in trying to talk to doctors who are trying to treat chronic symptoms of COVID, since the cause is still unknown. and talks with Hankins. “I thought it was extraordinary [she] “Rose,” he said. “He is so generous and strong.”
I share my gratitude to Rosen. Asking someone in the midst of a life-altering illness to talk to a journalist is a big request. I’m always worried that people will feel pressured to participate, and I want to make sure I have time to think through the implications of going public with personal information. Hankins was clear about why he said that. “He wanted to share his story because a lot of people in his life don’t know what it’s like to have COVID for a long time, and why he’s still so sick,” Rosen said.
In reporting, Rosen brings both his real and serious knowledge to the table. He has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology and is a graduate of the science journalism program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He explored careers in biotech but decided it wasn’t a good fit. He wanted to write about health and medicine.
This is Rosen’s third stint Science Newsfirst as an intern, then as a reporter, and now on the pulse after five years working in communications at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We’re glad she’s back. Not only are there complex issues surrounding COVID-19, including how it affects US public health and the ways it affects kids at school (SN Online: 8/19/22) was also interested in science. That involves stories about genetic variants, tying the knot in unexplainable children.SN: 10/8/22 & 10/22/22, p. 5); Zookeepers seem to have an unusual idea of calling wild gorillas “simon” (SN Online: 8/10/22); and a new robotic pill to deliver drugs by scanning the mucus in the intestines.
It’s great science, but it’s also crazy fun. I don’t think I’m ready to sign up for a robotic intestinal scrub brush, but I’m sure glad I researched it.
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