Woman talking(l+r), Virus cells(c)

Nhemz/Shutterstock @rebelworldd/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘There’s a mystery virus spreading around the U.S.A.’: Woman tested negative for COVID—but had COVID symptoms for 3 weeks

'You don't have COVID. You have a new virus that's been going around.'


Kahron Spearman


Posted on Feb 22, 2024

In a world still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, a new mystery ailment with COVID-like symptoms has emerged, stirring attention and concern across the globe. This narrative unfolds through the personal account of a TikTok user, @rebelworldd, whose viral clip has captured the essence of this growing unease. The video is a continuation of a viral video she has taken down. Her story sheds light on an issue that many may be silently facing.

“Hey, so I would just like to clear a few things up about my mystery virus video because I see a lot of people are stitching and being like, ‘Girl, it’s COVID, it’s COVID.’ Like, we already know what it is; it’s COVID; like, it’s not a mystery virus,” @rebelworldd begins, addressing the immediate assumptions made by her audience. This introduction sets the stage for a deeper exploration into the complexities of diagnosing emerging viruses in a post-pandemic world.

As the video progresses, @rebelworldd shares her medical journey, detailing visits to three different doctors in search of answers.

“The first two doctors I went to, they didn’t know what I had. They were like, ‘It seems like you have COVID, like you have all the symptoms, but we just don’t know, right?'” This statement underscores the confusion and uncertainty surrounding new viral infections, even among medical professionals. It’s a sentiment echoed in the broader scientific community, as seen in recent research and discussions on respiratory viruses.

The turning point in her narrative arrives with the consultation of a third doctor, who confirms that her ailment is indeed not COVID but a new, unidentified virus. “You don’t have COVID. You have a new virus that’s been going around,” he informs her, revealing that he, too, had recently recovered from the same illness.

This revelation from a medical professional adds a layer of credibility to the existence of the mystery virus, challenging the notion that COVID-19 is the only significant viral threat.

Findings from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System have documented the long-term health impacts of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and specifically a “long” version of influenza. Their research highlights the increased risk of death, hospital readmission, and other health problems following infections, underscoring the potential severity of emerging viruses.

Moreover, identifying new viruses, such as the Langya virus, which has only been in China, emphasizes the ongoing threat of viral spillover events from animals to humans. These emerging pathogens share similarities with COVID-19, including fever and severe respiratory symptoms, illustrating the diverse landscape of viral threats that humanity faces.

@rebelworldd It’s what the doc said. #covid #virus #viralinfection #sick #pandemic #fyp ♬ original sound – 💋

As health officials prepare for seasons of sickness, the presence of various respiratory viruses, including the mystery virus described by @rebelworldd, complicates the public health response. Doctors say the situation calls for vigilance and adaptability in the face of evolving viral threats, focusing on vaccination and prevention strategies to mitigate the impact of these diseases.

Dr. Jason Singh, who provides medical insight on TikTok as @drjaysonis fresh, said in a viral video in November that there had been an uptick in another mystery illness similar to COVID-19.

There have been several anecdotal stories across social media of this mystery virus that isn’t being called COVID-19 as a diagnosis. However, there’s also a belief that there’s an increased risk of other illnesses once a person has had COVID-19. In fact, via recent research, increased risks are present for unvaccinated people.

A 2023 study discovered that people who had COVID-19 before getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine showed a weaker immune response from certain key cells (CD4+ and CD8+ T cells) aimed at fighting the virus, compared to those who hadn’t been infected before vaccination. Also, people who had COVID-19 but didn’t get vaccinated had even lower levels of these critical immune cells compared to vaccinated people who hadn’t caught the virus before. The research, led by Dr. Mark M. Davis and supported by the NIAID, points out that COVID-19 might weaken the body’s immune defense, highlighting the extra protection vaccination offers, particularly for those who have already been infected.

“There can be lasting damage that might be resulting in something like Long COVID, or it might be something else,” Davis said in an article for Time. “We don’t know yet.”

@rebelworldd’s TikTok clip, while a personal account, serves as a microcosm of the more significant challenges posed by emerging viruses with COVID-like symptoms. It highlights the need for increased research, better diagnostic tools, and a more nuanced understanding of respiratory illnesses in a post-pandemic world. As the search for answers continues, her story is a reminder of the complex interplay between science, medicine, and the lived experiences of those navigating this uncertain terrain. 

Thh Daily Dot has contacted @rebelworldd and Dr. Jason Singh for comment.

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2024, 4:02 am CST