Dr Shepherd responds to Parliamentary Q&A: Is there a connection between Long Covid and ME/CFS?

Following the parliamentary question asked by Jim Shannon (Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)) on 20th November, Dr Charles Shepherd has written the following letter:

Dear Jim

Thank you for asking the parliamentary question about whether the DHSC has made any assessment regarding the very obvious connections between Long Covid and ME/CFS.

I was disappointed but not surprised by the ministerial reply as it reflects a general lack of serious interest at both a research and clinical level in recognising and making use of these overlaps – something that would be of great benefit to people with Long Covid and ME/CFS.

Sadly, despite the huge amount of money that has been poured into research and treatment of Long Covid over the past three years there haven't been any really significant findings to date. 

This comes as no surprise when a significant proportion of this research has been repeating what we already know about the cause, management and prognosis of ME/CFS.

However, as the minister says, no DHSC assessment has been made of the overlaps!

As you are probably aware, the ME Association has been pointing out the pathological and clinical overlaps between the two conditions since May 2020 and I briefed Matt Hancock's team when he was at the DHSC.

The MEA is now helping increasing numbers of people who have Long Covid with ME/CFS symptoms or meet diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.

This is the most recent version of our information and guidance to the overlaps between Long Covid and ME/CFS:


Kind regards 

Dr Charles Shepherd, MEA Hon Medical Adviser, APPG on ME Secretariat

Parliamentary Question

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the likelihood of a connection between myalgic encephalomyelitis and long covid.

Maria Caulfield provides the following answer:

No assessment has been made. Whilst myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and long COVID are similar in presentation, they are distinct conditions.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence currently recommends separate pathways for the assessment, treatment, and management of ME/CFS and the long-term effects of COVID-19.

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