Post-viral fatigue (PVF) is when you have an extended period of feeling unwell and fatigued after a viral infection.

Fatigue is a normal part of the body’s response to fighting a viral infection such as COVID-19. And it is likely to continue for some time after the infection has cleared.

Pandemic fatigue can lead to both mental and physical symptoms. It’s the feeling of exhaustion that comes from living with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus infection) pandemic and its impact on our lives.

People with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome) who have had this infection and now have a significant exacerbation of their ME/CFS symptoms – especially a further reduction in energy levels.

Most probably more cases of ME/ CFS that follow coronavirus infection fatigue are coming.

Some degree of post-viral fatigue (PVF) is a fairly common occurrence after any type of viral infection. In some cases, a full return to normal health takes months. Additional symptoms may also develop, where the term postviral fatigue syndrome (PVFS).

The situation with persisting fatigue following Coronavirus infection appears to be rather more complicated than what happens with other viral illnesses. It could also be more serious – as fatigue and lack of energy are turning out to be a very characteristic symptom of Coronavirus infection.

One of the reasons why people have fatigue, loss of energy, muscular aches and pains is the production of chemicals called cytokines by the body’s immune system.

In people with serious respiratory complications from Covid 19 infection, this may be due to an overactive immune response involving what is being termed a ‘cytokine surge’.


It’s worth noting that there are no drug treatments or supplements for treating PVF or PVFS. However, if you are not having a healthy balanced diet it would be worth taking a multivitamin supplement.

As many people are no longer going outside in the sunshine, or only doing so for short periods, the risk of vitamin D deficiency is increasing.

Vitamin D is made in the body in response to sunshine and is essential for bone and muscle health – so taking a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement is a sensible precaution. 

Other conditions can also cause persisting fatigue (such as hypothyroidism/ low thyroid function).

Chronic post SARS infection syndrome characterised by persistent fatigue, nonrestorative sleep, daytime fatigue, pain and weakness in muscles all over their body, and depression.

The clinical and sleep features of chronic post-SARS form a syndrome of chronic fatigue, pain, weakness, depression and sleep disturbance, which overlaps with the clinical and sleep features of FMS and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Fatigue can be caused by your heart not pumping properly. Then the brain will take blood from less-important areas of the body for example muscles in your limbs to supply the brain and other vital organs.

That can make your arms and legs feel weak. You may feel tired doing everyday things like climbing stairs or walking across the room. You can also get light-headed.
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  1. Dr Charles Shepherd Hon Medical Adviser, MEA. Post-viral fatigue (PVF) and Post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS) following Coronavirus infection. The ME Association
  2. Harvey Moldofsky 1, John Patcai. Chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, depression and disordered sleep in chronic post-SARS syndrome; a case-controlled study. BMC Neurol
    . 2011 Mar 24;11:37. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-11-37.
  3. Anthony L Komaroff, Lucinda Bateman. Will COVID-19 Lead to Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Front Med (Lausanne)
    . 2021 Jan 18;7:606824. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2020.606824. eCollection 2020.
  4. Leila Simani, Mahtab Ramezani, Ilad Alavi Darazam, Mastooreh Sagharichi, Mohammad Amin Aalipour, Fatemeh Ghorbani, Hossein Pakdaman. Prevalence and correlates of chronic fatigue syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder after the outbreak of the COVID-19 J Neurovirol
    . 2021 Feb 2;1-6. doi: 10.1007/s13365-021-00949-1. Online ahead of print.

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