Long COVID and ME/CFS
Those who have lingering symptoms after being infected by COVID-19 are referred to as having Long COVID. Some people with Long COVID are expected to develop ME/CFS.
...it’s extraordinary how many people [following COVID infection] have a postviral syndrome that’s very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome.
Dr Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, US, interview with Medscape p3, 27 July 2020
Since 1934, there have been 63 documented epidemics of ME/CFS following viral outbreaks. This includes two outbreaks in Adelaide, the first in 1949-51
associated with poliomyelitis, and the second in 1957.
Based on previous viral outbreaks, it is estimated that 10% of people who have been infected with COVID will develop ME/CFS, similar to what has been observed in the SARS Co-V1, MERS and Ebola pandemics.
Long COVID can affect anyone: all ages, including children, and it is also not related to disease severity. We now know that long COVID can also present in those that showed no symptoms at all, i.e. asymptomatic people, and that most long COVID sufferers were never hospitalised.
Dr Anna Brooks, cellular immunologist and Senior Research Fellow, Maurice Wilkins Centre, University of Auckland. SMC, NZ
Amongst people with Long COVID, a diverse array of symptoms and organ damage have been identified.
One frequently reported symptom in Long COVID is post-viral fatigue (PVF), a common and usually self-limiting symptom following any acute viral infection. When PVF is accompanied by a symptom complex, in addition to the fatigue, this becomes post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS).
If PVFS persists and becomes debilitating, then an ME/CFS diagnosis should be considered. In particular, the presence of post-exertional malaise (PEM) will indicate ME/CFS.
There is some anecdotal evidence that adequate rest and the use of pacing may reduce the likelihood of PVF becoming PVFS, or PVFS developing into ME/CFS.
Long COVID in the news
The scientific understanding of COVID-19 and its long term impact is changing constantly.
Articles on Long COVID may be found by browsing through In the News, which is updated daily, or by using the Search function to access articles on COVID.
Large numbers of people have been infected with COVID. With the expectation that many people around the world will develop Long COVID, including ME/CFS, government agencies are committing resources to research and services.
Through these studies, we hope to identify new targets for therapies and preventive measures and to soon welcome a future in which no one must live with ME/CFS or PACS [post acute covid syndrome].
Dr Nina F Schor, Deputy Director of NINDS, US NIH, 5 February 2021
Additional search term: Long haulers
Last edited: 10 May, 2021