Risk of long COVID halved by vaccines, study finds

pharmafile | September 2, 2021 | News story | Medical Communications  

Researchers at King’s College London have found that being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 not only cuts the risk of catching the virus, but also lowers the risk of an infection developing into long COVID.

The study analysed data gathered from the UK Zoe COVID Study app, which tracked self-reported symptoms, vaccines and tests, in over 1.2 million adults between December 2020 and July 2021.

The data show that in the minority of people who get COVID despite two jabs, the odds of developing symptoms lasting longer than four weeks are cut by 50%, compared with people who are not vaccinated.

Researchers also found some people were more at risk of so-called breakthrough infections (getting COVID after a vaccine) than others – including frail, older adults and people living in deprived areas. This was particularly the case for people who had only had one jab.

Lead researcher Dr Claire Steves said people at increased risk needed to be prioritised for booster jabs. She said: “In terms of the burden of long COVID, it is good news that our research has found that having a double vaccination significantly reduces the risk of both catching the virus and if you do, developing long-standing symptoms.”

The study also found the following:

  • Just 0.2% of double-jabbed people said they had had a COVID infection after vaccination (2,370 cases)
  • Of the 592 fully vaccinated people with COVID who continued to provide data for more than a month, 31 (5%) went on to get long COVID (defined as illness lasting 28 days or more after a positive test)
  • In the unvaccinated group this figure was about 11%

Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, said vaccines had saved more than 105,000 lives and prevented more than 24 million infections in England alone.

He said: “It is clear vaccines are building a wall of defence against the virus and are the best way to protect people from serious illness. I encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward for both their jabs as quickly as possible.”

Kat Jenkins

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