Chronic fatigue “inevitable” for patients with long Covid

Posted: 28th October 2021

Over half (55%) of all “long Covid” patients reported fatigue up to six months after the initial infection researchers have found. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 2.6 million Americans could be living with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), but the figure could be far higher as many remain undiagnosed. The findings add to a growing body of evidence linking COVID-19 and ME/CFS.

A diagnosis of chronic fatigue is almost inevitable for those with long-Covid, says researcher Maarten Van Herck, a PhD student at the University of Hasselt in the Netherlands, who spoke at the European Respiratory Society’s virtual annual meeting. An incredible 79% of individuals surveyed experienced “severe fatigue” 24 weeks after joining an online support group for COVID-19.

The impact of COVID-19 on long-term health is stark, researchers have found. In a recent study, scientists found that 26% of patients hadn’t fully recovered from COVID up to six months after their initial diagnosis. The majority experienced extreme fatigue, with 26% recording feelings of depression and 25% still experiencing shortness of breath.

The long-term physical and mental health impact of COVID-19 infection necessitates a shift in the approach of healthcare providers. “These findings underline the need for the timely planning of healthcare resources and services tailored to the needs of individuals suffering from post-COVID-19 syndrome,” say the authors.

Van Herck’s findings and previous studies highlight a potential ticking time bomb for healthcare providers. Thankfully, vaccinations provide substantial protection from long-Covid, with that fully inoculated patients are 50% less likely to develop the damaging and distressing symptoms, researchers have found.

However, that still leaves millions at risk of developing ME/CFS – with all the implications that brings. New research has identified similar biomarkers present in patients with long-COVID and ME/CFS. The authors speculate that “the symptoms of both long COVID-19 and ME/CFS may stem from redox imbalance—which in turn, is linked to inflammation and energy metabolic defects”.

While there are no treatments for ME/CFS, a confirmed diagnosis can enable patients to make lifestyle changes to minimise the condition’s impact. Biocentaur’s PrimeSpot Test can accurately diagnose ME/CFS in a blood sample, giving clinicians and patients essential information to manage their condition. 

The test uses an advanced technique known as quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to isolate DNA and RNA from a blood sample and test it for a range of different viruses, ME/CFS and Lyme disease. 

Read about our range of genetic tests, including how you can order your PrimeSpot Test, here.

You can read the full study, Burden of post-COVID-19 syndrome and implications for healthcare service planning: A population-based cohort study, here.

You can read the full paper, Risk factors and disease profile of post-vaccination SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app: a prospective, community-based, nested, case-control study, here.

You can read the full paper, Redox imbalance links COVID-19 and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, here.

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