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Long COVID: a new word for naming fibromyalgia?
  1. Xavier Mariette
  1. Rheumatology department, Université Paris-Saclay, Assistance Publique - Hôpitaux de Paris, Hôpital Bicêtre, INSERM UMR1184, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France
  1. Correspondence to Professor Xavier Mariette, Rheumatology Department, Université Paris-Saclay, Hôpital Bicêtre, 78 Avenue du Général Leclerc, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, 94270, France; xavier.mariette{at}


Long COVID is the name given to a syndrome comprising a wide variety of symptoms persisting more than 3 months after acute benign COVID-19, with a prevalence ranging from 10 to 80%. Symptoms are very close to fibromyalgia. Several studies showed that long COVID prevalence was much higher after the first wave of the pandemics and was associated to the fact of thinking having had COVID rather than having had really COVID. Thus, it was the stress of the first wave with the lockdown and not the consequences of the infection that probably induced this high frequency of long COVID. Numbers of studies tried to find objective biological abnormalities for explaining long COVID but none of them could be replicated and convincing. The concept of long COVID seems to be a repetition of history of medicine, in which the doctors and the society gave different names to fibromyalgia with the objective of trying to highlight the fact that fibromyalgia could be a somatic disease with a well understood pathophysiology and to avoid to focus on the psychosomatic aspects of the disease. In conclusion, “to name is to soothe” as said by Roland Barthes. However, “Naming things wrongly adds to the world's unhappiness” was saying Albert Camus. Thus, the term of long COVID, which suggests viral persistence of impaired immune response to the virus, is unappropriated and should be replaced by fibromyalgia-like post-COVID syndrome. Research on the psychosomatic and somatic mechanisms involved in these fibromyalgia-like post-viral syndromes must be encouraged.

  • Covid-19
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Epidemiology

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  • Handling editor Josef S Smolen

  • Contributors XM is responsible for the totality of the article.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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