Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis found that even vaccinated people with mild breakthrough COVID-19 infections can experience debilitating, lingering symptoms that affect the heart, brain, lungs and other parts of the body.
They also found that vaccination against the virus that causes COVID-19 reduced the risk of death by 34% and the risk of getting long COVID by 15%, compared with unvaccinated patients infected with the virus.
However, vaccines were shown to be most effective in preventing some of the most worrisome manifestations of long COVID—lung and blood-clotting disorders—which declined about 49% and 56%, respectively, among those who were vaccinated.
The research is published in Nature Medicine and was conducted by Ziyad Al-Aly et al.
In the study, the team analyzed the de-identified medical records of more than 13 million veterans.
They classified patients as fully vaccinated if they had received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine.
At the time the research was conducted, the database used for this study did not include information about whether patients received boosters.
The patients with COVID-19 were mostly older, white men; however, the researchers also analyzed data that included more than 1.3 million women and adults of all ages and races.
The study does not include data involving the virus’s omicron variants, which began spreading rapidly in late 2021.
However, the team said prior studies have suggested the vaccine is effective against all current variants.
The team found in addition to complications involving the heart, brain and lungs, other symptoms linked to long COVID included disorders involving the kidneys, blood clotting, mental health, metabolism and the gut and muscle systems.
Long COVID risks were 17% higher among vaccinated immunocompromised people with breakthrough infections compared with previously healthy, vaccinated people who experienced breakthrough infections.
An analysis of 3,667 vaccinated patients who were hospitalized with breakthrough COVID-19 infections showed that they experienced 2.5 times the risk of death than people who were hospitalized with influenza.
They also had a 27% higher risk of long COVID in the first 30 days after diagnosis compared with 14,337 people who were hospitalized with seasonal influenza.
The team says vaccinations remain critically important in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccinations reduce the risk of hospitalization and dying from COVID-19.
But vaccines seem to only provide modest protection against long COVID.
People recovering from breakthrough COVID-19 infection should continue to monitor their health and see a healthcare provider if lingering symptoms make it difficult to carry out daily activities.
If you care about COVID, please read studies about drug duo that could help cure COVID-19, and this cholesterol-lowering drug could reduce COVID-19 infection by 70%.
For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about the cause of severe inflammation in COVID-19, and results showing new way to prevent broad range of COVID-19 variants.
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