The Scientist: Could COVID-19 Trigger Chronic Disease in Some People?


Despite uncertainties around whether some cases are in fact SARS-CoV-2 infections, “long-haulers” such as those in the online group point to the possibility that COVID-19 is not just a transient respiratory disease, but could manifest as neurological and physical symptoms that persist even months after people fall ill. Although many of them may yet recover in the coming months, some scientists are becoming increasingly worried that some may end up with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), a debilitating and poorly understood condition associated with some viral infections. In a press conference last week, for instance, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci noted that some of the long-haulers’ symptoms resemble those of ME/CFS. Studies are now underway to track whether some long-haulers develop the disease, and if so, to investigate its underlying mechanisms and possible avenues for treatment quickly. 

“This is a massive infection of millions and millions of people. I think one has to be really concerned about the long-term consequences,” notes Avindra Nath, a neurovirologist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “A lot of emphasis early on has been on providing treatments and vaccines and antibodies and all that kind of stuff, but the long-term consequences have not received the attention that they deserve.” 

Read the whole story at The Scientist