More than half of people with acute COVID-19 infection continue to have persistent fatigue 10 weeks after their initial illness, according to a new study published November 9 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Liam Townsend of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and colleagues. Fatigue is one of the most common initial presenting complaints of people infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The long-term consequences of COVID-19 have not been well-studied and concern has been raised that the virus has the potential to trigger a post-viral fatigue syndrome.
In the new study, researchers tracked fatigue, as well as patient characteristics including COVID-19 severity, laboratory markers, levels of inflammatory markers and pre-existing conditions, in 128 study participants who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2. Based on their score on the Chalder Fatigue Scale (CFQ-11), 52.3% (67/128) of study participants met the criteria for fatigue at the assessment point at least 6 weeks following COVID-19 infection. Only 42.2% of the patients (54/128) reported feeling back to their full health.
The authors add: "This study highlights the burden of post-COVID fatigue. It also demonstrates that post-COVID fatigue is unrelated to severity of initial infection, so predicting its development is not easy."