Can Long-COVID Help Us Understand Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

HITLAB Team • November 13, 2023

As the world continues to put the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview mirror, a growing number of people are reporting Long-COVID or Post-COVID Conditions (PCC), including fatigue from physical or mental exertion, difficulty sleeping, and even difficulty with memory and concentration – i.e., “brain fog.” News outlets are reporting symptoms from Long-COVID almost daily, as healthcare providers seek to find a link between these symptoms and the virus. In addition, other downstream effects are emerging and gaining attention.

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), more commonly known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), has been a small and challenging area of medicine. As freelance journalist Jim Trageser reports in BioSupply Trends Quarterly, the earliest documentation of CFS may have been in 1750 by Sir Richard Manningham, yet it was not seen on a larger scale until the polio virus in the 1930s. It would take another 50 years for post-poliomyelitis syndrome (PPS) to be recognized as an accepted medical condition; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not recognize CFS as a disease until 1988. Despite this, many skeptics remained, and patient symptoms were considered somatic or from a mentally depressive origin, even fabricated, according to Dr. Anthony Komaroff of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). It would be almost another 30 years before a wider acceptance of CFS would be seen and there would not be greater awareness until the COVID-19 pandemic.

Causality between several viruses, including herpes—particularly the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)—and CFS has been established. However, there is still a lack of understanding, according to Dr. Komaroff, why several infectious agents and major physical trauma produce a similar syndrome. There is commonality when comparing CFS to symptoms seen with Long-COVID, as also acknowledged by the National Institute of Health. While long-term research may accurately answer these questions, there is still a need for a direct tie to research funding. As Trageser notes, Congress’ first funding bill did not include language to provide funding directly to ME/CFS, but there is now a signal for change due to growing awareness of Long-COVID and its potential ties to ME/CFS.

Currently, ME/CFS is not explicitly named on the CDC’s list of medical conditions that could increase severe illness from COVID-19. However, because ME/CFS is a serious and long-term medical condition, many who have been diagnosed are advised to take extra precautions, such as continued COVID-19 mitigation efforts and strict vaccination/booster schedules. And while medical experts are working to better understand the complexities of ME/CFS—and its relation to Long-COVID—FFF Enterprises, Inc. (FFF) and its MyFluVaccine® (MFV) platform stay committed to patient safety and protection by providing access to COVID-19 tracking and other respiratory disease information so healthcare professionals and patients—especially those at risk of severe illness—can stay up-to-date on COVID-19 trends, vaccines, and data.

And the push for further data, research, and funding has taken on new significance, as experts anticipate approximately one-fifth of people diagnosed with the SARS CoV-2 virus go on to develop Long-COVID symptoms. As a result, Trageser argues, there is a unique opportunity to launch a study with a natural control group to better understand the ties between Long-COVID and ME/CFS. However, the lack of funding threatens this unique opportunity. Despite this, continued awareness of COVID-19 and its long duration symptoms may create the motivation to ensure funding remains a top priority for this public health issue.

About FFF Enterprises Inc.

Founded in 1988, FFF Enterprises, Inc. is a privately held, multibillion-dollar specialty pharmaceutical distributor and diversified healthcare company. FFF Enterprises is the parent company to leading specialty pharmacy Nufactor, Inc., as well as InCircle, LLC and RightNow Inventory™. Our partners include global pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturers, prestigious healthcare systems, large and independent retail pharmacies, and leading alternate care sites. Our nationwide commerce is supported by a network of distribution and infusion pharmacy locations utilizing world-class technology and cybersecurity solutions.

Learn more about