Vaccines against COVID-19, while protective against hospitalization and death, may not be great at preventing long COVID after breakthrough infections, a new study finds.
They found that while being vaccinated greatly reduces risk of hospitalization and death, vaccines only reduce the risk of long COVID by about 15 percent, as the researchers reported in a paper published on Wednesday in Nature Medicine.
In the new study, 32 percent of vaccinated veterans had long COVID symptoms up to six months after their breakthrough infection, compared to 36 percent of unvaccinated veterans with COVID.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Tuesday estimating that “COVID-19 survivors have twice the risk for developing pulmonary embolism or respiratory conditions” compared to uninfected people.
Al-Aly also mentioned that breakthrough infections and long COVID symptoms were more common among those who received Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot compared with two doses of either Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
The causes and potential treatments of long COVID are still largely unknown.
Demystifying long COVID through research specifically aimed to find its causes and possible interventions is direly needed for those now living with protracted symptoms.
“We need continued research specifically on long COVID so specific therapies can be developed,” Greg Vanichkachorn, director of the Mayo Clinic’s COVID Activity Rehabilitation Program in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved with the new study, told NBC. But right now there’s only one good long COVID prevention method: “The best way to not get long COVID is not to get COVID,” said Vanichkachorn.