Shots HEALTH NEWS FROM NPR
The chance of even a mild case of COVID-19 turning into a long-term, debilitating medical condition is one of the greatest fears of Americans trying to navigate the pandemic, which is again taking a turn as new data show the BA.2 subvariant is taking hold in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the only sure way to avoid long COVID is not to catch the virus in the first place.
But there is now a growing body of research that’s offering at least some reassurance for those who do end up getting infected — being fully vaccinated seems to substantially cut the risk of later developing the persistent symptoms that characterize long COVID.
While many of the findings are still preliminary, the handful of studies that have emerged in the past half year are telling a relatively consistent story.
“It may not eradicate the symptoms of long COVID, but the protective effect seems to be very strong,” says epidemiology professor Michael Edelstein, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, who’s studying long COVID.
Edelstein’s study was one of those included in a recent analysis of the evidence on long COVID and vaccination done by the UK Health Security Agency.
That review found vaccinated people tend to have lower rates of long COVID after an infection than those who are unvaccinated.
There’s a running list of theories about why people get long COVID. Permanent tissue damage from the infection, injury to blood vessels and the development of microclots, a lingering viral reservoir in parts of the body, or an autoimmune condition are some of the ideas being explored in the research.
But even without a clear sense of what’s exactly driving long COVID, there’s good reason to believe that vaccines would help guard against the condition, says Dr. Steven Deeks, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
There’s overwhelming evidence that someone who’s vaccinated has less virus in their body during an infection, he says … read more.