A news piece was widely circulated a couple days ago that reportedly began when a Texas trauma surgeon tweeted that nearly all the Covid patients she's seen have wound up with severe scarring in their lungs, and that's true even among the asymptomatic. 

 


Her name is Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall. She is obviously a young woman. She is an assistant professor of surgery at Texas Tech, and given that she was still a surgical resident in 2019, that's amazing.  

 Post-COVID lungs worse than the worst smokers' lungs, surgeon says - CBS News

So, she's claiming that people who have a positive Covid test but no symptoms- and there are a lot of people in that category- have lungs that look as bad on x-ray as those who get clinically ill. 

And she quantified it. She said that people who develop Covid symptoms have a severe x-ray "every time" while among those who don't get visibly ill but test positive, 70 to 80 percent have a severe x-ray.

I find that hard to believe, and therefore, I don't believe it. But, before we get to that, let's ponder some things. 

First, why are Covid patients going to a trauma surgeon? They don't need surgery, do they? Having Covid doesn't necessitate surgery, does it? 

But, the article states that she has treated thousands of Covid patients since March. Thousands? She's a surgeon, and I assume she spends most of her time operating, and operations take time. So, I find it hard to believe that she could have seen thousands of Covid patients since March,  and I don't understand why she would see any Covid patients at all. Obviously, a person who has Covid could also experience trauma and need surgery. But, in that case, she would not be treating them for Covid. It makes no sense that among trauma patients that such a high percentage would have Covid, and it makes no sense for a trauma surgeon to be treating anyone for Covid. 

But, what bothers me most is her claim that asymptomatic positives have lungs that look as bad on x-ray as the clinically sick. This graphic was published with the article:

 


So, on the left is a normal chest x-ray, although that's clearer than average, by far. That's idyllic. Then there's the smoker's lung and the Covid lung which looks much worse. So, she's claiming that people who test positive for Covid but have no symptoms have lungs that look like that on the right? I don't believe it. Not for a second. I don't believe that anyone could have lungs as bad as those on the right without having symptoms/complaints. But, how is it that she is x-raying asymptomatic people? If they are asymptomatic, surely they don't need to see a surgeon. Why are asymptomatic people going to a trauma surgeon in the first place? 

 

And where is she finding the time to x-ray asymptomatic people? And who is paying for it? Are insurance companies paying for that? Is the government? The medical system is under strain, right? Hospitals are full? Doctors are working overtime? So, where is the slack to start x-raying asymptomatic people? 

But, other medical sources have made claims that contradict what Dr. Bankhead-Kendall said. These sources have claimed that Covid patients, even symptomatic ones, often have healthy looking chest -rays. 

  • A significant percentage of patients with COVID-19 have normal chest CTs or x-rays. For those patients, a normal imaging result could falsely convince them that they are healthy. If they believe they are healthy, they are at greater risk of spreading the virus to others.

https://blog.radiology.virginia.edu/covid-19-and-imaging/

 

Here's another one that starts with:

Patients presenting at urgent care centers with symptoms that warrant suspicion of COVID-19 may have normal chest X-rays yet still be infected with SARS-CoV-2, according to findings of a study published online April 13 in the Journal of Urgent Care Medicine (JUCM).

 https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/928946

Be aware that it's always been the case that people can test positive for a virus without being sick. Take Epstein-Barr. They say that half the population is infected with it, but only a small percentage have symptoms. And it's not just viruses. There are many people who test positive for tuberculosis without being sick; who have no clinical symptoms or impairments. Remember that hospital personnel are given TB skin tests routinely, and some have positive reactions, yet both they and their chest x-rays look fine.  

So, there is often discord between microbial test results and symptomatology. But when it comes to the presence of gross pathology and symptomatology, that's a different matter. You can't tell me that someone could have lungs like the ones on the right without feeling it; without being aware that they have a problem. How could lungs like that ventilate normally? 

So, never mind thousands, I would like to be shown even one person with a positive Covid test, who is walking around skipping and singing from not being sick, who, when you take their chest x-ray, it looks like the image on the right. 

What this is is a grossly exaggerated propaganda piece intended to frighten people into getting vaccinated. Here's Dr. BK's last word:

"There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of COVID."

Oh really. Yet a borderline obese 74 year old, Donald Trump, got Covid and breezed through it in 3 days and was back to campaigning 16 hours a day. And note that there have been no reports of Trump being a "long-hauler."  His wife had it too, symptomatically.  His son had it too, but asymptomatically.. You figure they all have x-rays that look like the one on the right, Dr. BK? Because that is what your article not only implies but states outright, and I'm calling it what it is: bull shit.