Stop spreading unconfirmed COVID-19 symptoms around

Over at Slate, Shannon Paulus kindly reminds us that correlation is not causation — especially when it comes to a novel coronavirus for which we have very little knowledge, let alone enough scientific controls to do an accurate study of a fully representative sample set.

"A small but important subset of people with the coronavirus also really hate puppies." That's what I keep thinking to myself as I see story after story linking various, so-called surprising symptoms to COVID-19: pinkeyeloss of hearingloss of smellbrain impairments, and "staring off into space." These pieces provide varying levels of evidence, from a Twitter dispatch to a patient to surveys conducted by researchers to propose that the mere correlations their authors are writing about might actually have some sort of firm, causative relationship.

Each of these symptoms lacks substantial peer-reviewed evidence connecting them to the novel coronavirus; at best, there are a couple studies.

So look, it's an upper respiratory infection. Leave it there until we know more, and stop talking about that drug that Donald Trump keeps pushing because he has a financial stake in the company that makes it.

The Supposed Symptoms of the Coronavirus [Shannon Paulus / Slate]

Image: U.S. Air Force Graphic by Rosario "Charo" Gutierrez (Public Domain)