Article by Frances Stead Sellers, published by The Washington Post online November 7, 2021 

Could Long COVID unlock clues to chronic fatigue and other poorly understood conditions?

In early 2020, Alison Sbrana watched the coronavirus skip from China across continents with a sense of impending doom. Sbrana, plagued by fatigue and brain fog since being diagnosed with mononucleosis six years earlier, was convinced that the pernicious new virus would wreak similar havoc in some of those who contracted it.

Her intuition proved prescient. Some people who had suffered even mild cases of covid-19 began complaining of problems that Sbrana knew too well, including muscle pain and drop-dead exhaustion. Now, as millions of people nationwide are suffering from long-haul COVID, Sbrana and an army of patient advocates are cautiously hopeful that new research may unlock clues to other conditions that appear to crop up after infections, including myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, known as ME/CFS.

“I think there is potential,” said Sbrana, who suffers from ME/CFS.

Covid long-haulers inherited many of the challenges that have faced people like Sbrana for years, including a lack of understanding of the mechanisms that triggered their disabilities — leaving some doctors to view their symptoms as largely psychosomatic.

But long-haulers have also opened doors. As a new pathogen, SARS-CoV-2 offers a fresh opportunity to examine what many doctors agree is not well understood — how people recover from infections, even common ones. The National Institutes of Health earlier this year launched a $1.15 billion initiative to study long covid, and researchers and patients hope it will provide answers.

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Emerge Australia is a national organisation providing education, advocacy, research and support services for Australians living with ME/CFS. With the medical and media spotlight currently on Long COVID it is finally bringing ME/CFS out of the shadows and highlighting how proper funding and new research is decades overdue.

Emerge Australia is determined to seize this moment to help transform the lives of the estimated 250,000 Australians living with ME/CFS and other post-viral fatigue conditions. Please support our campaign, by sharing it amongst your networks to keep the conversation flowing. And if you possibly can, please make a donation to help people with a disease strikingly similar to Long COVID, expect hardly anyone has heard of it. You can keep up to date with the campaign and Emerge Australia's work by subscribing to our monthly newsletter