The debilitating symptoms of long Covid will be all too familiar to those with chronic fatigue syndrome, writes Prof Christopher Norton, and yet for decades these patients have been dismissed by much of the medical community. Plus letters from Isabella Stone and an anonymous parent of a long Covid sufferer
The terrible symptoms of “long Covid” described by Joanna Herman (I’m a consultant in infectious diseases. ‘Long Covid’ is anything but a mild illness, 27 December) will be horribly familiar to hundreds of thousands of sufferers of post-viral myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. But the response to the two illnesses could scarcely be more different.
Within a few months of the start of the pandemic, research funding into long Covid was made available, guidance on treating it has been issued already, and 40 clinics for it are to be set up in England alone. By contrast, for decades ME/CFS sufferers were ignored, dismissed as hysterical, and generally failed by large sections of the medical community and the NHS. Even now that the illness has been officially recognised, medical and social care support for sufferers varies from inadequate to non-existent, and there is scarcely any public research funding.