The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published a rapid evidence briefing on the effectiveness of vaccination against long COVID.
Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters, Chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 Taskforce and Professor of Immunology at University of Surrey, said:
“From the start of the pandemic, it’s been clear that a significant minority of patients experience long COVID – ongoing symptoms which are present long after the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection has cleared, and which can be very debilitating to ongoing health and wellbeing. The term ‘long COVID’ covers a wide range of post-COVID conditions and so we don’t yet fully understand all the processes involved. The immune system is thought to play a role in symptom development in a significant number of cases, likely as a result of an over-reactive and/or slightly misdirected immune response during the acute COVID infection.
“This comprehensive review by UKHSA examines whether COVID vaccination prior to infection with SARS-CoV-2 might be protective against developing long COVID. To reach its conclusions, it draws together evidence from a number of UK and international studies containing a large number of participants.
“The review concludes that, in addition to any benefit obtained by not catching COVID in the first place, those people who do catch COVID are less likely to develop long COVID if they have received one or two doses of COVID vaccine compared with unvaccinated individuals. The review also found evidence to suggest that symptoms can be reduced in people who were vaccinated after they had developed long COVID, although it is noted that the data for this is not as robust and more work is needed to confirm this. Further studies are underway.
“This review reemphasises the importance of everyone, no matter their age, getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from falling sick with COVID-19 and suffering from long COVID post infection. Although there has been a high uptake of the vaccines in the UK so far, a significant number of people still need to come forward for a first or second dose. We must continue to make every effort to reach these people and encourage them to come forward for COVID-19 vaccination.”
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Prof Deborah Dunn-Walters: “No declaration of interests.”