UCSF’s Bob Wachter says wife is suffering from brain fog, other long COVID symptoms

Delly Bezoss

Dr. Bob Wachter, UCSF’s chair of medicine, says his wife, Katie Hafner, is doing “not great” weeks after getting COVID-19 and is suffering brain fog and other symptoms.

Providing an update on Hafner’s condition following the journalist and author’s positive test in May, Wachter said in a lengthy Twitter thread Monday that “many people ask how my wife fared after her COVID case — we truly appreciate the concern. The answer is: not great.”

Five weeks post-infection, Hafner is likely suffering from the symptoms of long COVID, including fatigue and periodic headaches, he said. Noting that she hasn’t yet reached the official long COVID threshold — symptoms persisting two months after infection — Wachter said, “Whatever the definition, it sucks — she’s an amazingly high energy person, & now she’s wiped out most afternoons.”

Hafner, who is vaccinated and double boosted, initially had a mild case of COVID-19.

“Yet here we are, with symptoms that are unpleasant every day, and on some days truly interfere with her ability to work,” said Wachter, who has become one of the Bay Area’s leading voices on COVID-19.

He also questioned whether the antiviral Paxlovid was effective in preventing persistent COVID symptoms despite its ability to reduce the viral load to prevent the most severe outcomes in people who are infected. Wachter pointed to a NEJM studythat found the drug reduced the risk of hospitalization by 89%.

Hafner suffered a rebound infection after her course of Paxlovid, which made Wachter wonder if that had increased her odds of long COVID.

“No way to know, but crucial to study,” he said.

Wachter said in an interview with The Chronicle last week that his wife is taking daily naps, often an hour or longer, which is out of character for her. They both worried she’d have trouble fulfilling upcoming commitments. Watching his wife’s experience has recommitted him to cautious behaviors to avoid the virus, he said.

Some studies show elevated rates of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, blood clots and cerebral damage in COVID survivors.

“While there’s always a risk of confounding (ie, that someone with undiagnosed diabetes or heart disease is more susceptible to COVID, so it’s really effect-cause rather than cause-effect), at this point I find the overall conclusions credible,” Wachter said in a tweet.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/UCSF-s-Wachter-says-wife-not-great-after-17238906.php

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