Dr David Tuller, Prof Brian Hughes, and Steven Lubet: Lessons For Long COVID-19 From A Changing Approach To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


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Paradigm Lost: Lessons For Long COVID-19 From A Changing Approach To Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
MAY 18, 2021
For decades, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, the poorly understood illness also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS, have experienced neglect from the medical establishment and dismissal from society at large. In recent months, however, the condition has gained remarkable visibility, since many survivors of COVID-19 are reporting the sort of profound exhaustion, cognitive impairment, orthostatic intolerance, recurrent relapses, and other medical complaints that characterize ME/CFS. The New York Times, The Guardian, the BBC’s “Newsnight,” and other major news outlets have extensively covered the apparent overlap between ME/CFS and what has been dubbed Long COVID or, more formally, post-acute COVID-19 syndrome.
As with Long COVID, a large subset of ME/CFS patients reports that the condition began with an acute viral infection from which they never seemed to recover. Many remain severely impaired for years, even decades. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, has drawn attention to the similarities, observing that the pattern of Long COVID symptoms is “highly suggestive of myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome.” It is still unknown what proportion of Long COVID patients will ultimately recover on their own. Despite the fact that periods of post-viral fatigue and other symptoms are actually quite common after a variety of acute infections, the phenomenon is surprisingly understudied.