The Age Of Delta: Recent Survivors Of COVID-19 Tell Their Stories

Sebastian Hughes

  • Recent survivors of COVID-19 spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation to share their stories of what it’s like to have the virus now that the delta variant is the dominant strain in the U.S.
  • “There’s so many different symptoms that you’re dealing with to where the first eight days that I had it was probably the worst eight days I ever went through,” Abdullah Al-Amin told the DCNF.
  • Each person the DCNF spoke to continued to feel the effects of the virus even after “recovery,” with a dry cough, low energy, or periodic shaking left unresolved. 

With the delta variant now the dominant strain in the U.S., the Daily Caller News Foundation spoke to recent survivors of COVID-19 to share their stories.

“The body aches and the chills that you experience … you can feel it in your bones if it’s at its worst,” Abdullah Al-Amin, an airport customer representative and songwriter in Las Vegas, told the DCNF. “And I think I had it at its worst.”

Al-Amin, who is in his 30s, believes he caught the virus at the gym, as the pain he felt the next day was unrecognizable. “The first place I felt it was in my legs. And I knew it wasn’t from the workout, because you can tell the difference.”

Headaches, chills, and a loss of appetite followed. Al-Amin’s pharmacy later told him he contracted the delta variant, which now makes up approximately 93% of recently sequenced COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Al-Amin was so cold and his muscles so sore that when he laid down “the bed hurt my muscles and my bones,” he told the DCNF. He said his thermometer was set to 70 degrees, but it felt like it was below zero.

“The only way that I can possibly warm up was going to the bathroom, turning the shower on completely hot so it could steam up,” he said. He eventually pulled an air mattress into the bathroom so that he could finally sleep.

When Al-Amin’s chest pains began, he started to think of going to the hospital. “There’s so many different symptoms that you’re dealing with to where the first eight days that I had it was probably the worst eight days I ever went through,” he said.

Despite his experience with the virus, Al-Amin remains hesitant to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines currently available. “I was 50/50 before, and I’m 50/50 after,” he said.

Stories of vaccinated people catching COVID-19 are part of the reason he hasn’t yet gotten the shot. “It just kind of makes you wonder, like, okay, is it an effective vaccine?”

Though breakthrough cases exist, they represent about .08% of positive COVID-19 tests, according to data obtained by NBC News from 38 states. Vaccines also limit symptoms in breakthrough cases, according to the CDC.

Susie Lawley, a facilities director at a church in Birmingham, Alabama, got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in April but caught COVID-19 for the second time in July. Though she didn’t confirm she had the delta variant, Lawley had worse symptoms the second time around, she told the DCNF.

Going from what felt like a cold “to full-fledged flu symptoms, fever, ache all over, chills, just feel like a truck ran over you,” the 60-year-old said. “It was unreal how much I slept.”

The virus hardly affected Kevin Rainsberger, who got the Moderna vaccine earlier in the year. He told the DCNF that if it wasn’t the “days of COVID” he would have figured it was just a head cold.

The 66-year-old, retired and living in Gainesville, Florida, was exposed to COVID-19 while rehearsing for a play at The Villages in July.

“My sinuses were congested and I would say for about four days after that I was low energy,” Rainsberger told the DCNF. “I think I found out on a Wednesday … by that Sunday, I had pretty much all of my energy back.”

Rainsberger’s symptoms were so minimal that his wife had him paint the interior of their home while he quarantined. A number of vaccinated friends told him they almost wanted to get COVID-19 so that they were “double immune,” he said.

Al-Amin said that if the Food and Drug Administration officially approved a vaccine, the odds he would get the shot would increase to about 80/20.

Each person who spoke to the DCNF said that while they mostly recovered from the virus, there remained lingering side effects. Lawley’s energy has yet to fully recoup, and Rainsberger still has a dry cough at night.

Al-Amin continues to experience random fits of shaking. By the time he went back to the gym for the first time since contracting COVID-19, Al-Amin sensed he lost most of his strength and stamina.

“It’s almost like you’re starting over,” he said.

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