Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Under-reporting of long covid in GP records

GPs need awareness about post-covid ME/CFS

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 12 August 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n1995
  1. Caroline Kamau-Mitchell, senior lecturer
  1. Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
  1. C.kamau{at}

Wise reports that general practitioners might be under-reporting long covid in patient records.1 Approximately 25% of people infected with SARS-CoV-1 developed debilitating fatigue and other symptoms that met diagnostic criteria for myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) that continued for more than four years.2 So patients with long covid who have had chronic fatigue for six or more months, together with other mandatory symptoms, are likely to be diagnosed as having ME/CFS.

A recent inquiry report for the House of Lords discussed the need for GPs to follow-up patients with suspected long covid and to determine whether those still experiencing severe fatigue after six months meet the other diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS.3 Although there is no known cure, viruses are known to be one of the possible causes of ME/CFS,4 so recognising the chronic fatigue reported by many patients with long covid can help GPs direct them to appropriate support.3 Without enough awareness, patients presenting with long covid symptoms might not be believed by some GPs or might receive misdiagnoses for mental conditions. Not all patients with long covid have ME/CFS but, for those who do, GPs must identify the need for appropriate support, including referrals to occupational rehabilitation support services.3

Data are needed to clarify rates of ME/CFS after covid-19, and GPs can help by conducting six month follow-up of patients who report long covid.


  • Competing interests: None declared.

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