Is Long COVID Really Chronic Fatigue Syndrome By Another Name?

From Columbia Mailman School Of Public Health.

Even after the World Health Organization declares the end of the global pandemic, COVID-19 will continue to cast a long shadow. By some estimates, nearly a third of people with a symptomatic infection still experience debilitating symptoms months later. Much about Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), the clinical term for what is commonly referred to as Long (or Long-haul) COVID, is unknown. However, one intriguing clue can be found in its similarity to myalgic encephalomyelitis, a disease also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS.

Mady Hornig, a Columbia Mailman School psychiatrist renowned for her research on ME/CFS, joined Walter J. Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), for a late June panel discussion on post-acute COVID. The panel was part of WNYC Radio’s 2021 Health Convening, hosted by Nsikan Akpan, health and science editor at New York Public Radio.

Individuals with PASC/Long COVID rarely continue to test positive for an active infection (at least by standard tests) but continue to experience a constellation of symptoms, from fatigue to trouble with cognition and chest and abdominal pain. While the condition is most common in those with severe COVID, it is also seen in 19 percent of those with asymptomatic infections, according to an analysis by FAIR Health, although studies vary widely. But how the virus triggers these symptoms and why it happens in some people not others is so far unknown.

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