Vaccinated people infected with coronavirus less likely to experience long-term effects: research

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New research found that people who experience breakthrough coronavirus infections after being fully vaccinated are half as likely to suffer long-term effects from COVID-19 as those who are unvaccinated.

The study of British adults published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Wednesday found that people who experience breakthrough infections are 49 percent less likely to experience the long-term effects known as “long COVID-19” than those who are unvaccinated.

“This is really, I think, the first study showing that long Covid is reduced by double vaccination, and it’s reduced significantly,” Claire Steves, a geriatrician at King’s College London and the study’s lead author, told The New York Times.

“We don’t have a treatment yet for long Covid,” Steves said, according to the Times. However, she added that getting vaccinated “is a prevention strategy that everybody can engage in.”

Some people infected with the virus experience long-term effects — meaning they last at least four weeks after infection— known as long COVID-19. Individuals can report symptoms including fatigue, sleep disorders and shortness of breath that last for months.

The new study also revealed that people who received both doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines experienced symptoms less often than those who are not vaccinated. 

In previous research, unvaccinated people were also 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, while those vaccinated seem only to experience mild symptoms.

“Of course, vaccines also massively reduce your risk of getting infected in the first place,” Steves told the Times. She added that the lowered risk means that vaccination should also reduce the odds of long COVID-19.

The study does suffer from limitations, researchers acknowledge, the most prominent of which is that all the data is self-reported. “Long COVID-19” is difficult to study due to its wide-ranging symptoms and severity.

However, Steves said she is hopeful that the study will encourage more young people to get the vaccine. 

“Being out of action for six months has a major impact on people’s lives,” she told the Times. “So, if we can show that their personal risk of long Covid is reduced by getting their vaccinations, that may be something that may help them make a decision to go ahead and get a vaccine.”

The research was released as the highly contagious delta variant is causing more breakthrough cases than other versions of the virus, the Times noted.

Tags Breakthrough infection Long Covid Vaccines

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