This global study asked Long COVID patients from 56 countries about their symptoms during the previous seven months. Results revealed striking similarities between myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and Long COVID. The authors state ME/CFS is a “highly possible diagnosis” for many of the people surveyed. 

After six months with Long COVID, there were three common symptoms most people reported. These symptoms were fatigue, post-exertional malaise (PEM) and cognitive dysfunction, which includes brain fog and problems with memory. Of these three symptoms, PEM is the most significant. This is because PEM is unique to ME/CFS.  

PEM is where someone experiences worsening of symptoms after physical or mental activity. This activity can be as simple as going for a short walk, or reading a book for too long. PEM is usually delayed, starting somewhere between 24 – 48 hours after activity, can last for days, weeks or even months, and can be very disabling. In this study, 89.1% experienced PEM at any time during the course of illness. 72.2% were still experiencing PEM after seven months. 

Finally, the study measured the impact of Long COVID on patients’ lives. Almost half of survey participants (45%) reported requiring a reduced work schedule compared to pre-illness, and 22% were not working due to their health condition. Only 27% of those who worked before becoming ill had returned to pre-illness levels of work. The vast majority of people with ME/CFS are also unable to work, or do not work full-time. 

Read the full article here: 

Davis et al., “Characterizing long COVID in an international cohort: 7 months of symptoms and their impact”, EClinicalMedicine, vol 38, 2021

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