Potential research into Long-Covid and ME/CFS at the ME Biobank

September 9, 2020

Dr Charles Shepherd, Hon. Medical Adviser, ME Association


Dr William Weir

With increasing reports of ‘Long COVID-19’ or ‘long-haulers’, we are looking into future research possibilities in this area.

Some people that have COVID-19 may go on to develop ME/CFS and following up these people may uncover clues on how the disease progresses.

This is preliminary information about a potentially important Covid-19 research collaboration between infectious diseases expert Dr William Weir and the ME Biobank – whose basic running costs are met by the ME Association Ramsay Research Fund.

The aim of this research is to gather information from blood samples taken at the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and during the course of the illness, to see if abnormalities are present that increase the risk of developing ongoing health problems, including the development of post COVID syndromes and post COVID ME/CFS.

Blood samples and clinical information from people who develop COVID-19, or have had COVID-19, will be required for this research. More information can be found below.

Funding: No funding has yet been agreed. We are simply asking suitable people to express their interest in taking part.

Ethical approval: This will be sought via the LSHTM 

Exclusions: Ideally we will be looking for people with a prior history of normal health because additional background medical problems may obscure the picture. For example, people on long term steroids or other immunosuppressants. 

Age: It is likely that the majority of people coming forward will be between ages 18-65. Nonetheless it is possible that we could look at the previously fit 65 +  population if there were enough people in this category.

People with a prior diagnosis of M.E. The study will initially be looking at people with Long Covid symptoms only, as prior/existing M.E. may obscure the findings. But further information will be made available in due course.

Blood samples: What we want is a blood sample that was taken at the time of the acute illness, or at least within 4 months, preferably earlier than this, and as near as possible to the time of the acute illness. A second sample would then be required one year after the acute illness.

Hopefully, a close friend or relative who got ill with Covid at the same time, but who recovered fully would also be able to provide similar samples. They would act as controls and might provide insights into what has enabled their recovery (e.g. normal vitamin D levels, absence of a concurrent enterovirus/herpes virus, no endogenous retroviruses).

Register your interest

If you are interested in taking part in this and other potential research into Post-Covid, and feel you might qualify for inclusion, please Contact the ME Biobank.

Include your name, date of birth, address and specify your interest in taking part and they will add your information to the post-COVID-19 mailing list. If you have already had a diagnosis of ME/CFS before the onset of Covid symptoms, please also let them know.

More information:

The ME Association

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