Doctors & researchers reject unfounded explanations for Long Covid & ME/CFS

March 28, 2022

David Tuller, a senior fellow in public health and journalism at the Center for Global Public Health at the University of California writes about how physicians with long Covid reject their peers' opinion that their symptoms are psychosomatic.


Mady Hornig, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who is also a psychiatrist said: “It is also well-known that viral illness can leave a subset of survivors with years of ongoing medical complaints. Many if not most ME/CFS patients report that their illness began, like long Covid, with a viral infection that never seemed to fully resolve.”

Asad Khan, a pulmonologist in Manchester, England, has not been able to work more than a year out from his bout of Covid. Like Qureshi, he has found that other physicians have pooh-poohed his exhaustion and other symptoms. “I’ve been told, ‘It’s nothing serious,’” said Khan, who is 46. “I’ve also been told, ‘Do you think you’re stressed? Do you think you’re over-perceiving your symptoms?’’’

“It is clear to me that medicine has fallen into a pattern where the jump to ‘this is psychological’ is instant,” he said. “Something is very wrong with the way we are dealing with illnesses where there isn’t a clear biomarker or clear abnormality on examination.” Khan is a member of a private Facebook group of more than 1,400 doctors who either have long Covid themselves or want to learn more about it. 

Dr Asad Khan

Nina Muirhead, a dermatological surgeon with ME/CFS in Buckinghamshire, England, said she empathizes with the doctors with long Covid confronting doubt and dismissal from their clinicians and colleagues. She recalled facing similar reactions from her peers when she was diagnosed with ME/CFS several years ago, after a bout of glandular fever from which she never seemed to recover. At times, Muirhead was too sick to take care of her kids or even watch TV, much less practice medicine. She has since improved enough to be able to work a reduced schedule. 

Dr Nina Muirhead

Dr Khan concludes: “My role is to raise awareness of the biomedical nature of these illnesses using my privilege as a physician patient.”

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