Long-COVID & ME
Is there a connection between Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Long-COVID?
Researchers have estimated that approximately 80% of ME/CFS cases are infectious in origin, often following a virus such as Epstein Barr, West Nile or Influenza. Some now believe that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), could also contribute to the development of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Many individuals living with Long COVID report symptoms that
resemble ME/CFS, most notably post-exertional malaise, cognitive dysfunction and persistent exhaustion. Five studies (below) have estimated the prevalence of ME/CFS within Long COVID to be over 40%. A 2021 study estimates that up to 400,000 Canadians (or 80,000 British Columbians) may have newly developed ME/CFS from Long-COVID in 2022/23 alone, almost doubling the number of people with ME/CFS in Canada.
Support for those living with Long-COVID
The ME|FM Society of BC supports those living with ME, Long-COVID and other post-infectious illnesses. - Sign up for our free "Living with ME/Long-COVID" email series - See our Pacing and energy management resources - Join our online support groups that welcome Long-COVID patients suffering from chronic exhaustion, worsening symptoms after mental or physical activity, cognitive dysfunction ("brain fog"), sleep troubles, pain and other symptoms.
What are experts and researchers saying?
Dr. Anthony Fauci (US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director and US Coronavirus Task Force member) described in several interviews that people who are not recovering after contracting COVID-19 are showing symptoms “that are highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome”.
Dr. Alain Moreau, the Director of ICanCME (a CIHR funded research network for ME/CFS in Canada), discussed in The Scientist that “with this very severe COVID-19 disease, where we’re now dealing with millions of people suffering from it worldwide, the question is not if [some] will develop ME/CFS—it’s how many.”
Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) hosted a webinar on ME/CFS and Long COVID with Dr. Nina Muirhead (UK). Dr. Muirhead comments that “ME clinicians who have been seeing ME patients for a long time can see the similarities in the Long-COVID patients coming in” and that “we do expect a subset of long COVID patients to develop post viral ME”.
The NIH’s National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) published an article outlining the overlapping symptoms between Post Acute Covid Syndrome (PACS) and ME/CFS, and the connection on its COVID-19 webpage.
Selected published research
Here is a sample of the research linking ME/CFS with Long-COVID. For more research, please follow this search string to the NIH Pubmed Database: myalgic encephalomyelitis AND covid - Search Results - PubMed (nih.gov)