Chronic fatigue syndrome a possible long-term effect of COVID-19, experts say

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: Aug 09, 2020, 07:08 AM(IST)

Coronavirus across the world Photograph:( Reuters )

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ME/CFS is a chronic disease that can last for decades. It often takes root following some form of viral infection, for instance Epstein-Barr virus or Ross River virus. 

More than six months into the global coronavirus crisis, many who had contracted COVID-19 have not fully recovered.

Up to 35 per cent of those diagnosed with COVID-19 were not back to their normal selves two to three weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to a July 24 report by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of the 292 people the CDC surveyed on post-COVID recoveries, 35 per cent reported fatigue. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) has been suggested to many as a reason why they have not fully recovered.

Failure to recover from exercise, or post-exertional malaise, is often considered a hallmark ME/CFS symptom, according to a 2015 report by the National Academy of Medicine.

ME/CFS is a chronic disease that can last for decades. It often takes root following some form of viral infection, for instance Epstein-Barr virus or Ross River virus. 

The novel coronavirus is just one more virus that can potentially trigger the onset of this debilitating condition.

A number of research and support groups are, hence, being set up to help people struggling with long-term COVID-19 symptoms and to explore how and why immune system abnormalities might lead to ME/CFS.

One of the groups is the Open Medicine Foundation, a collaborative of scientists focusing on ME/CFS research with centers at Stanford University and Harvard University. The group launched a study of COVID-19 patients that will monitor how their disease and its possible aftereffects, specifically chronic conditions that might occur after an illness, evolve. The researchers will analyse patients' genomes, as well as complete protein and metabolism profiles at regular intervals.

Meanwhile, those with ME/CFS should prioritise activity management, or pacing, the CDC recommends. This means one should understand their physical and cognitive limits, and not push beyond them.

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