IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A lady doctor speaking with a person of colour about her diagnosis. The ME Association logo (bottom right).

Misdiagnosis of Long Covid – Lessons to be learnt from ME/CFS

A news item in the Independent: A nurse who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic has been diagnosed with terminal cancer — after mistaking a persistent cough for a symptom of long Covid.

Victoria Puar, 46, says she caught the virus during a camping trip with her family in August 2021 and suffered with a horrible cough for months afterwards.

Believing the cough to be the result of long Covid, Victoria was finally sent for tests earlier this year – which ultimately showed she was living with stage four lung cancer.

The MEA Comments

Dr Charles Shepherd, MEA Medical Adviser, comments:

This is a very distressing story which illustrates why doctors should always take a detailed clinical history, carry out a physical examination and arrange for appropriate investigations before a diagnosis of Long Covid is made and continued with.

Sadly, this is not the first case where a malignancy has been misdiagnosed as Long Covid. See BBC News and Metro articles below:

We already know about people who have been misdiagnosed as having ME/CFS when they do in fact have another medical condition with overlapping symptoms to ME/CFS.

So there are important lessons to be learnt here by doctors who are involved in diagnosing Long Covid, and by people who are living with a diagnosis of Long Covid, especially when new symptoms appear.

The MEA guide to Long Covid and the overlaps with ME/CFS also covers the misdiagnosis of Long Covid.

Dr Charles Shepherd
Trustee and Honorary Medical Adviser
(Member of The NICE Guideline Committee on ME/CFS (2019 – 2021) and The DHSC Research Working Group (2022-23)

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