By : Elias Forero Illera
Internista reumatólogo. Rheumatologist internist. Internista reumatologista

14 April, 2021

"We are facing an enemy difficult to tackle. Therefore, while vaccines arrive and also after them, the call is to stay calm and not forget the self-care measures"

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Against our wishes and in spite of the scientific effort, pandemic does not stop. The SARS-CoV-2 and its variants produces one more peak of contagion, deaths, fear. The score is resounding, virus 3, humanity 0.  

The impact is not only seen in the already known pulmonary, joint, renal, cerebrovascular, cutaneous, and other organ clinical manifestations. Now, as a consequence of the anxiety produced by the fear of the spreading of the virus, another disease is appearing, not as deadly as covid-19, but almost as detrimental: pseudo-covid.

This manifestation occurs when people learn of the infection of someone they know, with whom they have had recent contact. It also occurs when the media warns about the increasing numbers of infections and deaths. 

On hearing about the bad news, they begin to feel the symptoms attributed to the infection with the damned virus. Fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, body aches, headache and even loss of appetite. All of the above manifestations are perceived with such plausibility that people feel really sick. 

A cascade of implausible situations is then triggered, anxiety takes them over, the lack of care and the failure to rigorously follow preventive measures are reproached. Instead of consulting a doctor, they turn to friends who have already had covid or to google or anyone who dares to recommend anything. Not thinking much about it, they buy from the pharmacy everything recommended by some, corticoids, antibiotics, ivermectin, aspirin, anticoagulants, colchicine. They do all the self-medication that otherwise they would never take. Swab tests and x-rays are taken, examinations of one another, in other words, total chaos. 

Doctors are no strangers to this situation. Given our natural exposure to the pathology, it is common to think that we are infected, and like any normal human being, we are filled with anguish. We wait for the lab results with anxiety, when they come back negative, that reassure us, but at the same time we ask ourselves: am I a false negative? Am I in the window period?

It also happens that we confuse other viral illnesses with covid-19. This pandemic year I have had two viral infections that I mistook for SARS-CoV-2, I even had a shot of enoxaparin. Of course, we also buy all kinds of medicines, from the already forgotten hydroxychloroquine to the widely sold Redoxon (vitamin C) and vitamin D, which are already scarce in pharmacies because of the virus and now the pseudo-covid. Not to mention the money spent on pulse oximeters, infrared thermometers, and anything else we think may be useful. 

In the last issue of the Universidad Nacional medical school journal, Dr. Franklin Escobar and his group, bring an interesting editorial that warns about this mental manifestation of the SARS-CoV-2 (1). They describe some clinical manifestations, prone personalities and propose some guidelines for its treatment. Finally, the authors recall that during the AIDS epidemic, these mental complications associated to the anxiety produced by the onslaught of the infection, were also observed.

These facts are understandable, we are facing an enemy difficult to tackle. Therefore, while more vaccines arrive and also after them, the call is to stay calm and not forget that the safest thing to do is to comply rigorously with the anti-covid commandments: 

  • Wear the mask at all times
  • Wash your hands every two hours
  • Keep social distancing above all things
  • Do not gather in large groups
  • Abide by quarantines when ordered

1. Escobar-Córdoba F, de Borba Telles LE, Hernández-Yasno M. Pseudo-COVID-19 ¿hacia un nuevo trastorno mental? Rev. Fac. Med. [Internet]. 2020Nov.17 [cited 2021Apr.12];69(1). Available from:


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