Persistent fatigue following SARS-CoV-2 infection is common and independent of severity of initial infection.

PloS one. 2020;15(11):e0240784

Plain language summary

Tiredness is a common symptom of Covid-19; however, it is unknown if this fatigue persists once recovered. This observational study of 128 recovered Covid-19 patients aimed to determine if fatigue persisted after recovery and whether severity of disease could predict fatigue. The results showed that post Covid-19 fatigue was reported in more than half of the participants and was particularly pronounced in females and in those with depression. Severity of disease did not predict fatigue. It was concluded that fatigue appears to outlast infection and fatigue was independent of disease severity. This study could be used by health care practitioners to understand that fatigue is common even after recovery from Covid-19 infection and women and sufferers of depression are the most susceptible.


Fatigue is a common symptom in those presenting with symptomatic COVID-19 infection. However, it is unknown if COVID-19 results in persistent fatigue in those recovered from acute infection. We examined the prevalence of fatigue in individuals recovered from the acute phase of COVID-19 illness using the Chalder Fatigue Score (CFQ-11). We further examined potential predictors of fatigue following COVID-19 infection, evaluating indicators of COVID-19 severity, markers of peripheral immune activation and circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines. Of 128 participants (49.5 ± 15 years; 54% female), more than half reported persistent fatigue (67/128; 52.3%) at median of 10 weeks after initial COVID-19 symptoms. There was no association between COVID-19 severity (need for inpatient admission, supplemental oxygen or critical care) and fatigue following COVID-19. Additionally, there was no association between routine laboratory markers of inflammation and cell turnover (leukocyte, neutrophil or lymphocyte counts, neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, lactate dehydrogenase, C-reactive protein) or pro-inflammatory molecules (IL-6 or sCD25) and fatigue post COVID-19. Female gender and those with a pre-existing diagnosis of depression/anxiety were over-represented in those with fatigue. Our findings demonstrate a significant burden of post-viral fatigue in individuals with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection after the acute phase of COVID-19 illness. This study highlights the importance of assessing those recovering from COVID-19 for symptoms of severe fatigue, irrespective of severity of initial illness, and may identify a group worthy of further study and early intervention.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Covid-19
Environmental Inputs : Trauma
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Not applicable
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Covid-19 ; Post-viral fatigue ; immune activation ; Inflammation