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Letter to Sunday Times: Harmful Long Covid article

June 16, 2021

The Sunday Times logoWe were disappointed to read the unsubstantiated and harmful opinions of psychiatrist Jeremy Devine in The Sunday Times on 13/06/2021. We’re glad other experts disagreed with his views in the piece, as we know from medical evidence that long Covid is not a psychosomatic illness and neither is M.E.

As part of Forward-ME, we sent this letter to the editor of the Sunday Times:

Subject: 'Why is Britain now the capital of Long Covid?' by Josh Glancy

Dear Editor,

This report was both disappointing and poorly researched in the way it presented the worldwide prevalence of Long Covid and the incorrect accusation that Long Covid had become so prevalent in the UK due to the "chronic fatigue lobby".

A great deal of research is taking place in the UK into both the cause and treatment of Long Covid. However, the UK has not become ‘the capital of Long Covid’ in relation to either research or the number of people who are affected. The current research estimates for prevalence here in the UK are very similar to many other countries. In fact, in some parts of the world the prevalence is significantly higher. And funding for research into Long Covid in the USA far exceeds that in the UK.

Long Covid has a number of clinical and pathological overlaps with ME. So it is not surprising to find that recognition may be higher in countries where ME is properly recognised as another very debilitating post-viral condition.

Our organisation and the various ME have reached out to the Long Covid patient community and provided information and support on symptoms that overlap with ME.

Prolonged post-viral syndromes can be triggered by any type of viral infection ranging from Ebola to chickenpox - regardless of ethnicity, sex and social class.

Hopefully, the emergence of Long Covid will put an end to people having their prolonged post-viral illnesses being dismissed as purely psychological and that collaborative research into post-viral syndromes such as Long Covid and ME that are aimed at finding effective forms of treatment will now take place.

Information from Dr Charles Shepherd of the ME Association on Long Covid and the overlap with ME is available as a free download from their website: www.meassociation.org.uk

The ME Association has recently updated the 40 page booklet covering information and guidance on all aspects of the management of Long Covid symptoms that are also characteristic of ME and post viral fatigue syndromes -

  • Activity induced fatigue
  • Cognitive dysfunction/brain fog
  • Dysautonomia - orthostatic intolerance, PoTS;
  • Hypersomnia and disturbed sleep
  • Muscle, joint and nerve pain
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Post exertional malaise/symptom exacerbation

Kind regards,
Andrew B Morris
Chair
Forward-ME