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Airault-Actéon Antoine

PhD student in sociology, EHESS

Doctoral school: Savoirs en société

Contact: antoine.airault-acteon(at)

Thesis title: Construction of long Covid as a symptom-based disease

Under the direction of Jean-Paul Gaudillière and Guillaume Lachenal

The aim of this research project is to study the disease referred to as 'Covid long' through the analytical lens of other public health problems discussed as 'symptom-based' diseases: 'chronic Lyme disease' or chronic fatigue syndrome. We are comparing them because they have similarities in terms of their subject matter: they are symptom-based diseases for which the link between the disease and an infectious agent is difficult to prove; they have similarities in terms of the way they are constructed as a health problem, with the creation of specific types of treatment and specialised care networks; and lastly, they have similarities in terms of the way they are constructed as a controversy, thanks to the work of patients' associations seeking to have the disease recognised and to call on the public authorities to improve treatment and research into their disease.

We propose the following problem: How did COVID long, as a disease defined by persistent symptoms and difficulty in proving the presence of the infectious agent, become a public health problem (attracting media attention, politicised, and requiring special care)? We propose a methodology based on existing literature on 'chronic Lyme', ethnographic surveys in places where these diseases are researched and treated, and a social network survey.

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