THAT Guardian Article on Long COVID Awareness Day – Letter to the Editor (Unpublished)

Hi All,
I’ve been waiting to see what letters would be published in the aftermath of the publication of THAT article (link below) on Long COVID Awareness Day (15th March), however, that was 5 days ago and no letters have been published, including mine which was submitted on 15th March. So, I am publishing it here – in solidarity with those living with Long COVID.

Letter to the Editor

As journalists, you hold a profound responsibility to uphold the integrity of information dissemination, particularly when it comes to sensitive topics that impact public health and societal understanding. Yet, on Long COVID Awareness Day, The Guardian’s decision to publish a non-peer reviewed study that belittled and stigmatised Long COVID was not just a misstep, but a betrayal of journalistic ethics.

Long COVID, a debilitating condition affecting millions worldwide, deserves compassionate and accurate coverage. However, by providing a platform for a study lacking the scrutiny of peer review and, by the article’s own admission, a limited observational study containing no physiological or detailed functional follow-up data, the Guardian Science Editor has failed in their duty to provide balanced and responsible reporting.

Moreover, the decision to publish such a study on Long COVID Awareness Day adds insult to injury. This day is dedicated to raising awareness, fostering empathy, and advocating for those suffering from the long-term effects of the virus. Yet, by publishing this article, The Guardian has contributed to the marginalisation of Long COVID patients, further exacerbating their struggle for recognition and support.

There are parallels with past journalistic failures in the coverage of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Historically, ME/CFS has been plagued by misconceptions, the stigmatisation perpetuated by irresponsible journalism has hindered progress in understanding and treating this complex illness.

The Guardian, along with all media organisations, must commit to upholding rigorous journalistic standards. Journalism must fulfil its vital role in fostering understanding, empathy, and progress in society.

Sally Callow, M.E./C.F.S campaigner and social entrepreneur.