Kaine says he has long-haul COVID-19 symptoms a year later

Kaine says his long-haul symptoms do not interfere with his daily life

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., talks with reporters on his way to a vote on the Senate floor in Washington on Thursday.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., talks with reporters on his way to a vote on the Senate floor in Washington on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 18, 2021 at 3:08pm

Sen. Tim Kaine still feels lingering effects from his bout with COVID-19 nearly a year after he contracted the novel coronavirus.

“Basically when I got COVID last March I started to have this nerve-tingling sensation where, I mean, every nerve ending in my body just is doing this 24/7,” he said, making a subtle motion.

He said he also currently gets random warming sensations on his skin.

“About five times a day it will feel like somebody put a heating pad on a part of my body,” he said. “And then it will go away, and in 15 minutes it will be somewhere else.”

Kaine revealed he is a long-hauler with neurological symptoms he described as non-painful but “weird” during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee meeting Thursday. The Virginia Democrat and his wife both tested positive for antibodies in May.

When he announced his positive antibodies test last year, he described his symptoms as what he initially thought were “flu remnants and a reaction to an unusually high spring pollen count,” and said his wife had a short stretch of fever and chills, along with congestion and a cough. 

His wife is not experiencing any long-term effects from her bout with the virus, he told CQ Roll Call. 

“It doesn’t get in your way of working, I get a good night’s sleep, but it’s just I haven’t felt the way I did before late March for the last year,” he said.

The warm sensations on his skin began as a “rash that would pop up, go away in 15 minutes and another one would,” he said. Since then, the rashes have subsided.

“I’m so glad that it’s not debilitating or painful, because some have long-haul symptoms that are very, very significant,” he said. 

In the United States, 29.6 million people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, and more than 538,000 people have died. Long-haulers are COVID-19 survivors who say they have not fully recovered from the coronavirus and report a constellation of lingering symptoms ranging from “brain fog” or fatigue to shortness of breath. 

A total of 10 current and former members of the Senate have tested positive for COVID-19 or antibodies. Kaine and Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania were the two Democrats who announced they tested positive for antibodies.

COVID-19 vaccines were made available to lawmakers starting in mid-December, meaning most who wanted a vaccination likely received both jabs by the end of January.

Some long-haulers who recently received vaccinations said they have seen their symptoms abate, but Kaine said that hasn’t happened for him. 

“They kicked in right when I got COVID in late March, a year ago, and they’ve been constant ever since,” he said.

At the Senate HELP meeting, where he made the revelation, Kaine asked the panel about its strategy for tackling the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He pointed out later that if he’s got symptoms after his bout with the virus, many others might too. And it could take years for doctors to completely understand what the lasting impacts of the virus might be. 

“It just shows how tricky this virus is,” he said. “And it also suggests that the long-term consequence in our health system is probably a lot bigger than we’re thinking of right now.”

Loading the player...