Remember When I Compared COVID to the Andromeda Strain?

Matthew G. Saroff
2 min readDec 24, 2023

I have done so every now and then.

I have done this for two main reasons, the first being my predilection for hyperbole, and my second that this virus appears to have a special affinity for the epithelial cells lining the circulatory system, which is exactly how Michael Crichton’s fictitious alien pathogen killed people.

We now have another data point showing how Covid is particularly aggressive toward the lining of the circulatory system, specifically a a Yale study showing that long Covid exercise intolerance is caused by reduced ability to exchange oxygen between blood and tissue.

Covid is a slow walking version of Michael Crichton’s virulent microorganism:

Exercise intolerance, or the inability to perform physical activity at the expected or desired level, is one of the many symptoms associated with long COVID. In a study, Yale researchers help explain what specifically is driving this symptom, offering much needed information for patients and generating new directions for future research.

The study was published Dec. 15 in the journal ERJ Open Research.

When a patient reports shortness of breath or exercise intolerance, physicians will usually run tests — such as CT scans, echocardiograms, or pulmonary function testing — to determine whether the symptom is being caused by limitations in the lungs or the heart since, typically, it’s one or the other. In some cases, however, neither lung nor heart function appear to be hindered.

Evidence has emerged that patients with long COVID who experience these symptoms tend to fall in the latter category, with standard tests identifying no heart or lung limitations


Yale is one of very few places in the United States where a more advanced version of this evaluation — the invasive cardiopulmonary exercise test, or iCPET — is available. For the test, pressure sensing catheters are inserted into the pulmonary artery, a main blood vessel in the lungs, and at an artery in the wrist. As patients exercise, physicians track various measures to observe how well the heart, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles are functioning.

In the new study, 55 patients were evaluated for post-COVID exercise intolerance, including 41 who showed no evidence of heart or lung limitations after initial tests. They then underwent iCPET.

“We found that despite the fact that the heart was pumping oxygenated blood that the lungs were providing adequate amounts of oxygen for, the in patients who had symptoms of exercise intolerance after COVID,” said Peter Kahn, a pulmonary and critical care fellow at Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study.

The study, which follows an earlier study from the research group that yielded molecular insights into the origins of exercise intolerance, also offers patients insight into their symptoms.

What is meant when they say, “Extraction of oxygen by the body’s tissues was compromised,” is, “Covid is f%$#ing with capillary function.”

This is why, early in the pandemic, we had blood clots and amputations resulting form infections.

This is not just the flu. Wear your f%$#ing mask and get your f%$#ing vaccination.