Did You Know That Covid-19 is SARS?

Kitanya Harrison
3 min readDec 19, 2023

As 2023 closes, a wave of increasing cases has Covid-19 back in the news. The pandemic isn’t over, and the plan of pretending it was and hoping the virus would mutate itself into irrelevance has failed. This is especially concerning as we learn more about the long-term effects of the disease. Heart problems, diabetes, dementia, debilitating fatigue and other serious lingering health issues make up a syndrome called Long Covid. The wider public has not been properly informed about these and other dangers of Covid-19. Perhaps the most important fact about the pandemic that public health officials withheld from us is that we are dealing with a new variety of serious acute respiratory syndrome — SARS.

The illness SARS is caused by the SARS-associated coronavirus – SARS-Cov-1. The virus that causes the disease Covid-19 is called SARS-Cov-2. What we've been dealing with over the past four years is a SARS2 pandemic. At the start of the pandemic, it was the World Health Organization that decided to use the language "novel coronavirus" instead of SARS. This decision removed important context about how serious an illness Covid-19 is.

If you're of a certain age, you will remember the SARS outbreak in parts of Asia from 2002-2004. The spread of the disease made international news because of its high death rate — approximately 11%. In addition, 18 years after having contracted the disease, some SARS patients were still suffering from serious negative long-term health outcomes (sequelae), including osteoporosis and femoral necrosis. Post-SARS-Cov-2 infection, some patients exhibit a range of sequelae, generally called Long Covid, ranging from brain fog and fatigue to heart and lung problems to diabetes to accelerated dementia. If the 2002 SARS outbreak is a guide, 20 years from now, some Long Covid patients won't have recovered. This is vitally important information that the public was denied.

The pandemic is not over. At the time of this writing, the latest wave of Covid-19 is sending up alarm bells. The JN.1 variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus contains mutations that make it highly transmissible and immune evasive. This means that it is easier to catch and harder for your body to fight it off, even if you've been immunized. As 2023 closes, Covid-19 waste water levels are extremely high and hospitals are being overrun with respiratory illnesses. It's like the early days of the pandemic – an overwhelming number of cases that could strain hospitals to their breaking points.

It’s time to start getting real, starting with properly naming what is happening: Covid-19 is SARS2.

Each infection is a gamble with a serious acute infection that may lead to hospitalization or death. Even if you contract what seems to be a "mild" case, debilitating Long Covid remains a significant risk. The pandemic has been a mass disabling event. Non-pharmaceutical interventions remain the only way to prevent transmission. Protect yourself from Covid-19 by wearing a respirator mask and avoiding gatherings of unmasked people. Ventilate your spaces or clean the air using HEPA filters or Corsi-Rosenthal boxes. Some of these precautions are downers during the holiday season, but the virus doesn’t care, and it cannot be bargained with or cajoled. Accepting and respecting this is part of getting real.

This is part of a series on Covid-19 and industry that spun off from my upcoming new collection of essays with the working title Welcome to the Zombie Apocalypse: Notes on Collapse from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

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Kitanya Harrison

*squinting in Nanny of the Maroons* | Read my essay collection, DISPOSABLE PEOPLE, DISPOSABLE PLANET: books2read.com/u/mBOYNv | Rep: Deirdre Mullane