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Can vaccination improve symptoms in people with long COVIDs?

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  • Some people with prolonged COVID symptoms may experience relief after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A new study in the United Kingdom found evidence that people with long COVID-19 may feel better after vaccination.
  • But more research is needed to find out if it really helps vaccines.

Many people experience COVID-19 symptoms for weeks or months after the initial infection is gone. Some of these people, known as “COVID long-haul carriers,” had only mild or no symptoms at the time of the initial infection.

Studies show 10 percent To 30 percent Many people who have recovered from a coronavirus infection develop so-called long COVID and Symptoms Fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog”, sleep disorders, fever, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, depression, etc.

Adding a twist to this, Facebook and Twitter are full of stories of long-haul carriers reporting their long COVID symptoms to their own surprise that they improve after vaccination with COVID-19.

Informal survey of 450 people by Survivor corps, A patient advocacy group for people with long COVIDs, reports that 171 people have found that their condition has improved after vaccination. Washington post..

These are currently mysteries, but scientists are already working to unravel them.

Above 109 million Americans When fully or partially vaccinated against COVID-19, more stories of long COVID symptoms that improve after vaccination may surface.

However, additional research is needed to understand what is really happening here.

“So far [this issue is] It’s anecdotal, “said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Hearing Of the House of Representatives Energy Commerce Subcommittee on March 17th.

“Anyway, many people get better naturally. If they get better after vaccination, I don’t know if it’s a vaccine or a natural recovery. Therefore, randomized trials need to be done to determine that. There is. “

Recently Preprint study From the UK, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, it provides additional evidence that vaccination may help people with long COVIDs.

The researchers followed 66 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with prolonged symptoms for up to 8 months, including 44 vaccinated and 22 unvaccinated.

People who received the COVID-19 vaccine had a “small overall improvement” in long-term COVID symptoms when compared to unvaccinated patients.

Approximately 23% of vaccinated patients reported improved symptoms compared to approximately 15% of unvaccinated patients. In addition, the number of vaccinated people decreased and the symptoms worsened.

The researchers found no difference in response between people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

This study was observational and cannot show that the vaccine was involved in improving long-term COVID symptoms. Other factors may have influenced the results.

Larger studies are needed, including the types of randomized trials Fauci mentioned at the House Energy and Commerce Commission hearing.

This may include randomly assigning people with long COVIDs to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the beginning of the study or to wait several months. This allows researchers to compare vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups to see if there is a real difference in symptom changes, both post-vaccinated and on their own.

National Institutes of Health recently received $ 1.15 billion from Congress Study the long-term health effects of COVID-19. Forch said it will be used to study the number of people affected by long-term COVID and the underlying mechanism of this condition.

Dr. Joan ElmoreA professor of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health will also conduct research to clearly define the acute sequelae of long-term COVID, or SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), as is officially known. He said it was necessary.

“I see patients with olfactory loss (anosmia) still present after 5-6 months,” she said. “It’s certainly a long-term effect.”

Other protracted symptoms after COVID-19, such as headache, chronic fatigue, or other neurological problems, can be caused by many causes, making it more difficult to result from long COVID.

“Last year was a tough year for all of us, and social isolation brought a lot of malaise and depression to our patients,” Elmore said.

So, “How can I tell if a patient’s headache or malaise is due to a persistent virus or an inflammatory response? [to the virus]Who has a headache or fatigue for other reasons? “

The challenge for scientists is to isolate possible causes of the effects of the virus, the body’s response to the virus, and other physical symptoms.

Elmore and her colleagues want to do just that.

They are conducting a study comparing two groups of people who have been infected with COVID-19 and those who have never tested positive for coronavirus.

“During the COVID test, we ask people what their previous medical problems were, and then we track them forward to see who develops new symptoms,” she said. It was.

Also, comparing people admitted to the ICU for COVID-19 with those who received ICU care in other conditions, some of the symptoms may be related to the intensive care received rather than the virus itself. Check if there is sex.

In addition to this, they are currently tracking which people are vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. This should provide data on whether the vaccine helps people with long COVIDs.

It’s not clear why the vaccine reduces long-term COVID symptoms, but Yale University immunologists Akiko Iwasaki, PhD Shared two possibilities CNBC..

People with prolonged COVID-19 symptoms may have a live coronavirus in their body, known as the “virus reservoir.” The strong immune response elicited by the COVID-19 vaccine may eliminate the remaining virus and alleviate symptoms.

Another possibility is that COVID-19 can cause autoimmune disease in some people, where immune cells mistakenly attack the body’s own cells. In this case, the vaccine may provide “temporary relief” from an inappropriate immune response.

This may explain why some people Those who felt better after vaccination found that long COVID symptoms had recurred a few weeks later.

Recently proposed by a group of Spanish researchers Preprint study Both the antiviral and immunomodulatory effects of the vaccine may be involved in the alleviation of long-term COVID symptoms.

However, at this point, these are just hypotheses that need to be tested.

Iwasaki said he is planning a study in collaboration with the survivors to analyze blood samples of people with long COVIDs before and after vaccination. This may provide insight into whether the vaccine really helps.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 can be safely vaccinated, regardless of whether the vaccine relieves the symptoms of long-term COVID.

There are also benefits to vaccination, as it is not clear how long the immune defense with COVID-19 will last.

“We recommend that everyone be vaccinated with or without COVID,” Elmore said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recommended People wait to be vaccinated until they are completely recovered from the short-term symptoms of COVID-19.

If there is a shortage of vaccinations in the area, the CDC may temporarily delay vaccination for people infected with COVID-19 to give unprotected people the opportunity to be vaccinated. Is called.

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