Virginia Gov Ralph Northam (pictured) has still not fully recovered his sense of taste and smell a year after contracting COVID-19. Northam encourages his constituents to get jabbed to avoid complications related to ‘long Covid’
Virginia Gov Ralph Northam revealed this week that he is still suffering from symptoms of ‘long Covid’ over a year after contracting the virus.
The Democratic governor, whose term will end in January, told The Virginian-Pilot that his sense of smell and taste are yet to recover from his September 2020 bout with Covid.
Now, Northam is pushing for Virginians to get vaccinated in order to avoid suffering the way he has.
‘I’m 62, and I can deal with this,’ Northam told The Pilot.
‘But why take a chance, if you’re 15 or 20 years old or whatever age, of having symptoms that may affect you for the rest of your life?
‘Or, in the worst-case scenario, you get COVID pneumonia and don’t recover and end up losing your life.’
The vaccines were not yet available when Northam contracted the virus, though he now hopes other Virginians will heed is warning and get the shots.
‘I’ve had the virus and the vaccine – between the two, I’d take the vaccine any day,’ he said during a news conference in May.
Northam, who is a doctor himself, has been an advocate for Covid protections such as regular testing, social distancing and vaccination. Pictured: Gov Northam posts a picture of himself getting a COVID-19 test in Chesapeake, Virginia, to his Instagram page in June 2020
Gov Northam received the COVID-19 vaccine in March, and is pushing for others in his state get the jab. Pictured: Northam receives the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine and promotes the safety and effectiveness of the jabs on his Instagram page in March 2021
‘Long Covid’ is a common but mysterious condition where survivors of the virus still feel some side-effects months – or potentially years – later.
The condition has baffled many experts, and there is not yet any cures or treatments determined to be effective against it.
Experts can not even figure out why the condition occurs in the first place.
‘The long-haulers is just a situation in which uncertainty is the major theme of everything that happens,’ Dr Noah Greenspan, a New York City based pulmonary care expert who opened the nation’s first freestanding treatment clinic for long Covid told DailyMail.com earlier this year.
Greenspan said he cannot make a good estimate of what percentage of Covid patients will develop long Covid symptoms, though it can be anywhere from one-third to two-thirds of survivors.
He also told DailyMail.com that many long Covid patients will appear totally find when giving health screenings, confusing physicians even more.
Pictured: Gov Northam donates plasma to the Virginia Red Cross in December 2020. Northam previously contracted Covid in September 2020, meaning his blood contained naturally forming antibodies to the virus at the time
Pictured: Gov Northam visits a vaccine site in Norfolk, Virginia, and promotes the state’s partnership with Walmart to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine
A potential breakthrough was made during August, though, when researchers at the University of Cambridge in England identified a biomarker than can help physicians predict who will experience the condition.
That is only the first step towards developing treatments for long Covid, though.
Northam is a neurologist himself – the only U.S. governor to be a physician – and has a few theories as to what is happening with the condition.
He believes it could have to do with a disconnect between a person’s olfactory bulbs and the brain, and that the condition could be alleviated once the cell regenerate, reported The Pilot.
In the meantime, Northam is navigating the world with two of his primary senses diminished, maybe permanently.
Lemonade, once among his favorite beverages, now tastes like gasoline for him, according to the Pilot.
He also can no longer smell gasoline or smoke, or even the stench of his dogs.
Many of his favorite foods taste like ‘cardboard’ and the usually minty flavor of toothpaste instead tastes like metal, he told The Pilot.
‘It’s a very unpleasant taste,’ he said.
While he struggles with long Covid, he encourages his constituents to get the jab, and take safety measure to protect themselves and communities from the virus.
Northam’s social media pages are littered with posts promoting regular testing, vaccination, social distancing and other measure to stop the spread of COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, 70 percent of Virginians have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 62 percent are fully vaccinated.
Cases in the state are trending in the right direction, with 2,000 people testing positive for the virus every day, a 26 percent decrease over the past two weeks.
Northam’s term as governor will soon come to an end, as Virginia does not allow for someone to serve consecutive terms in the role.
Northam, who was elected in 2017 and assumed office in 2018, will not be able to run for governor again until 2025.