Many people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 suffer long-term symptoms, such as “brain fog”, fatigue and clotting problems. Explanations for “long COVID” include immune imbalance,
incomplete viral clearance and potentially, mitochondrial dysfunction. As conditions with suboptimal mitochondrial function are associated with initial severity of the disease, their prior health could be key in resistance to long COVID and recovery. The SARs virus redirects host metabolism
towards replication; in response, the host can metabolically react to control the virus. Resolution is normally achieved after viral clearance as the initial stress activates a hormetic negative feedback mechanism. It is therefore possible that, in some individuals with prior sub-optimal mitochondrial function, the virus can “tip” the host into a chronic inflammatory cycle. This might explain the
main symptoms, including platelet dysfunction. Long COVID could thus be described as a virally induced chronic and self-perpetuating metabolically imbalanced non-resolving state characterised by mitochondrial dysfunction, where reactive oxygen species continually drive inflammation and a
shift towards glycolysis. This would suggest that a sufferer’s metabolism needs to be “tipped” back using a stimulus, such as physical activity, calorie restriction, or chemical compounds that mimic these by enhancing mitochondrial function, perhaps in combination with inhibitors that quell the inflammatory response.