Tanya Lukyanova
Tanya Lukyanova
Updated Nov 17, 2022, 11:10am EST

When COVID doesn’t end, animated with AI

Tanya is a Russian-born, New York-based video journalist and documentary filmmaker at Semafor. You can subscribe to Semafor’s YouTube channel here.


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The News

The first known case of COVID-19 in humans was recorded on November 17, 2019. Since then, billions have been infected. An estimated 20 million have died. And millions more are struggling to work as symptoms mysteriously linger on for months and even years.

Beth Pardo is one of them. She was an avid marathon runner until coming down with COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic.

Three years after the first person was diagnosed with COVID-19, the chronic version of the illness, known as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) — or simply, long COVID — remains an elusive condition. But Beth’s health continues to deteriorate.

There are no tests to diagnose it. The wide-ranging list of some two hundred symptoms, which can last anywhere between weeks and years, includes things like “brain fog”, feeling of pins and needles, and difficulty thinking. It’s been reported to affect children, “people between 18 and 65”, and older — including those without pre-existing conditions. And some continue to dismiss the illness altogether.

We collaborated with artist Kier Spilsbury to animate Beth’s first-hand account using artificial intelligence.