Six months ago, which is about 2 weeks in pandemic time, I talked about COVID-19 “long-haulers”: people who contracted COVID-19, survived, but never fully recovered even months later. Most of the patients reporting this were women with an average age in their mid-40s, and the symptoms they reported were disruptions to the autonomic nervous system — heart racing, blood oxygen levels out of whack, things like that. I worried that because there was a mishmash of symptoms, no known mechanism, and very poor testing to see who actually had COVID-19 and who didn’t, this is an area that is ripe for con artists to swoop in and start diagnosing people as “long-haulers” with no evidence and to also sell them snake oil treatments to “fix” their condition.
Why am I bringing this back up now? Oh, no reason. Let’s move on to the next topic: this week, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed on her GOOP website that she got COVID-19 “early on” and is now experiencing long-haul symptoms like brain fog and fatigue. Wow, that sucks! So to treat this problem she turned to “functional medicine practitioner Dr. Will Cole” who performed tests that “showed really high levels of inflammation” that could only be cured with “intuitive fasting” (which also happens to be the name of Dr. Will Cole’s book) as well as a series of increasingly expensive products that Paltrow’s website just so happens to sell! How incredibly convenient!
First of all, this isn’t Cole’s first rodeo. He’s a quack who has been lurking around Goop for awhile now. He’s not what you might think of as a “real” doctor, seeing as he got his degree in chiropractic from a diploma mill. Back in 2019, Timothy Caulfield got some screenshots showing that Cole is anti-vaxx, claiming “most vaccines, if not all contain preservatives, like thimerisol, aluminum, formaldehyde or yeast.” He says that “vaccinated children have 2 to 5x more childhood diseases, illnesses, and allergies than unvaccinated children” and that vaccines “are a piece of the puzzle to the epidemic rise of chronic and autoimmune disease.” He also blamed vaccines and fluoride for autism. Mmmhmm.
So this is the quack who Paltrow went to for help. Did she actually have COVID-19? Does she actually have long-haul symptoms? Who knows? All we can say is that we have yet to hear from a real doctor on the matter, and the first we are hearing about it at all is in a sales pitch. Because in addition to plugging Cole’s book of bullshit, she goes on to push nonalcoholic cocktails ($32 for a 24-ounce bottle of mostly water) that you can pour into a $112 old fashioned glass, extremely expensive and ineffective supplements, a $500 infrared blanket, and of course, a $8,600 18k gold snake charm necklace, perfect if you’re going “for a hike.” A hike? I mean maybe it’s because I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts but I don’t wear my $10 Steve Buscemi face ring when I go hiking. I carry a water bottle and a giant knife. The fuck are you doing with an $8,000 necklace on?
Anyway, it’s entirely likely that Paltrow did, in fact contract COVID — much smarter people than her have gotten it so I fully understand that even a billionaire who could build the greatest quarantine fortress this side of Versailles might slip up and get exposed — and it’s also possible that she has been left with long-haul symptoms. We may never know, but what we can know for sure is that Gwyneth Paltrow is once again exploiting people during a deadly pandemic to sell utter quackery. And for that I desperately hope I’m wrong about the existence of an afterlife, because she deserves to spend it in Pandemic Hell with Donald Trump.