Sure Sign You've Already Had COVID, According to Dr. Fauci

Alek Korab
·5 min read
Woman sitting on the bed with pain in neck

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 410,000 Americans, and that doesn't even count those who caught the virus and never got better, still suffering from Long COVID. In fact, these "long haulers" may never get better, and remain a shell of their former selves, tortured by a series of never-ending and ever-changing symptoms that debilitate them, with no cure yet available. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the President and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has witnessed Long COVID first hand and wants you to know: "This is a phenomenon that is really quite real and quite extensive." Read on to hear about one sure sign you may have it—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

You Might Feel Like You Have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Dr. Fauci has said that the effects of Long COVID are new and need further research—but that it resembles an existing syndrome. "You don't want to be scaring people and alarming them, but they really should know that we don't know what the long-term consequences are, even when it looks like a routine infection," Dr. Fauci told Medscape in July. "We better be careful. Even after you clear the virus, there are postviral symptoms. I know, because I follow on the phone a lot of people who call me up and talk about their course. And it's extraordinary how many people have a postviral syndrome that's very strikingly similar to myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. They just don't get back to normal energy or normal feeling of good health."

The other symptoms he has listed include myalgia—which are body aches and pains—and headaches, among others.

RELATED: 7 Tips You Must Follow to Avoid COVID, Say Doctors

What is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis?

A syndrome misunderstood by even some doctors, "ME/CFS is a multi-system disease that causes profound metabolic dysfunction and is accompanied by physical and cognitive limitations," according to the experts at #MEAction. Hallmark symptoms include:

  • Post-Exertional Malaise, which #MEAction defines as "a reduction in functioning and a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal physical or cognitive exertion."

  • Unrefreshing Sleep

  • Headaches of a New Type or Severity

  • Cognitive Symptoms—some call this "brain fog," which Dr. Fauci calls an "inability to concentrate"

  • And More.

"People experience symptoms on a spectrum from severe to mild, but 75 percent of people with the disease are unable to work and 25 percent are homebound or bedridden," according to #MEAction. "Based on past viral outbreaks, we are expecting 10-12 percent of all people with Covid-19 will go on to develop ME/CFS."

"Unfortunately, we are still far away from a cure," Adriane Tillman, Editor of #MEAction, tells us. "The paramount problem is the abysmal lack of research funding allotted to ME/CFS by our government. The bottom line is that research funding for ME/CFS is absurdly deficient. If you add up all the funding that the NIH has allocated to ME/CFS research over the past two decades, it wouldn't even reach the total amount that the NIH should be spending in one year on ME/CFS based on the disease burden (the number of people who are sick and the effect on the quality-of-life)."

Dr. Fauci has alluded to more research being done "now" on Long COVID, but no specifics have been mentioned. "It's essential for us to learn all we can about how SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, leads to such widespread symptoms," wrote National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins last week. "It's also essential that we develop ways to better treat or prevent these symptoms. The NIH held a workshop last month to summarize what is known and fill in key gaps in our knowledge about Long COVID syndrome, which is clinically known as post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC). In December, Congress authorized funding for continued research on PASC, including an appropriation of funds for NIH to support continued study of these prolonged health consequences."

ME/CFS-like symptoms are also being studied in Post-COVID care centers at hospitals like Mt. Sinai. But we're still at the "tip of the iceberg," according to one scientist. "We need to dig in and do the work that needs to be done to help relieve the suffering and stop this madness," said Dr. Michael Saag, an infectious disease expert from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, at the NIH workshop, which also included Dr. Fauci.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Be Back to "Normal"

What to Do if You Feel You Have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Contact a medical professional if you feel you have Long COVID or ME/CFS. Note that they are likely to treat your symptoms but are still learning to understand both ME/CFS and Long COVID. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. "The pathway to recovery or diagnosis for COVID-19 long haulers will not be uniform," reports #MEAction. "Some long haulers will recover, a subset will go on to develop chronic illnesses like ME/CFS or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and some will have long-term consequences due to organ damage alone. Some long haulers are reporting symptoms that resemble ME/CFS, including post-exertional malaise, as well as cognitive challenges and sleep issues." For the full list of 98 symptoms that COVID long haulers say they have suffered (not all are ME/CFS), don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.