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expert reaction to unpublished conference abstract reporting that after a year, long-COVID is indistinguishable from other respiratory post-viral syndromes

Scientists react to a conference abstract which reports that long-COVID is indistinguishable from other respiratory post-viral syndromes.


Dr Aimee Hanson, Senior Research Associate, MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol, said:

“Inflammation, whatever its cause, can disrupt many of the body’s physiological processes. The consequences of inflammation triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection are unlikely to be entirely unique to this specific virus. Similarly, long-term symptoms following COVID-19 are likely driven by similar processes to those at play in other post-viral syndromes. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a rare opportunity to study SARS-CoV-2 infection and its consequences in intense detail, but this collective research may inform treatment strategies to prevent or lessen the severity of symptoms that linger for months to years following viral infection more broadly.”


Dr Janet Scott, Clinical Lecturer in Infectious Diseases, University of Glasgow, said:

“This looks like an interesting study, and I will look forward to seeing this presented in more detail at ECCMID at the end of April. Many infections cause post infection syndromes, and it may be that ‘Long COVID’ is indeed not markedly different from other post -respiratory virus syndromes. It is important however not to minimise the huge personal and economic impact the long COVID have on individuals. The big difference with Long COVID is the sheer number of people infected with the same virus in a short space of time – which has facilitated more coordinated research in the area – which I hope will benefit all sufferers of post Infection syndromes.

“It would be useful in my opinion, if we could offer rehabilitation services to all who need them, irrespective of the initial infection they contracted – for example, in my own area – the Highlands of Scotland, many people suffer from post Treatment Lyme Disease, which is clinically indistinguishable from Long COVID, and yet we are not funded to support them in the same way as we do long COVID patients.

“The title is perhaps a little off the mark – I think that Long COVID is different  from some other post infection syndromes – for example post Ebola syndrome (PES) , which is predominantly a pain syndrome (whereas long COVID is predominantly a Fatigue syndrome), PES sufferers notably also get eye conditions like white cataracts and anterior uveitis (an inflammation inside the eye), which we do not see in Long COVID. This paper has focused on respiratory viruses – and perhaps the title should better be ‘indistinguishable from common respiratory viruses in Queensland’.”



This press release is based on poster abstract P327 to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Barcelona (27-30 April). The research is being prepared for submission to a medical journal ahead of the conference in April 2024.


Declared interests

Dr Aimee Hanson: No conflicts of interest

For all experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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