1 Of 5 With Covid May Develop Long Covid, CDC Finds—Though Vaccination May Offer Some Protection, Study Suggests
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One in five Covid-19 survivors may develop symptoms of long Covid, or long-term symptoms, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control, though vaccinations may cut the risk of symptoms by 15%, another study of more than 13 million veterans conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found.

Key Facts

Vaccines reduced the risk of death among Covid patients by 34% and decreased the risk of some of the most debilitating long Covid symptoms—lung and blood-clotting disorders—by 49% and 56% respectively, according to the Washington University study, published in Nature Medicine on Wednesday.

But vaccinated, immunocompromised people were still 17% more likely to develop long Covid symptoms than healthy, vaccinated people, according to the study, which examined the data of more than 113,00 unvaccinated Covid patients and 33,000 vaccinated patients who experienced breakthrough infections from January 1 to November 1 2021.

The results suggest that vaccinations “remain critically important in the fight against COVID-19,” but seem to only offer “modest protection” against long Covid, Ziyad Al-Aly, an author of the study and clinical epidemiologist at the Washington University School of Medicine said in a statement.

The Washington University study comes after the CDC on Tuesday published new research showing Covid survivors are two times more likely to develop respiratory issues or pulmonary embolism than those who haven’t had Covid.

The CDC study—which analyzed electronic health records of more than 60 million adults across the country during March 2020 to November 2021—found as many as one out of every four adults ages 65 years and older experienced long Covid symptoms, and were more at risk than those younger than 65 for developing kidney failure, neurological conditions and most mental health conditions.

Surprising Fact

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Medicine also found vaccinated patients who were hospitalized with breakthrough Covid infections were more than two times more likely to die than those hospitalized with the flu. They were also 27% more likely to develop long-lasting symptoms within 30 days of being diagnosed with Covid. .

Key Background

Long covid has been used to describe a host of symptoms people report for months or even years after an initial coronavirus infection. The new studies add to a growing body of evidence that a record number of adults may experience lasting effects from even mild Covid infections. Researchers in both studies identified a wide array of Covid-related health issues including heart, lung, kidney, musculoskeletal, neurological, gastrointestinal and psychiatric problems. A new study published last week in the British Medical Journal found one dose of a Covid vaccine after a coronavirus infection could cut the risk of long Covid symptoms by 13%. No treatments are available for long Covid, but authors of the CDC study, who are also members of the CDC’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Team, concluded that “routine assessment for post-COVID conditions” among coronavirus survivors could be critical in reducing long Covid ailments, especially among seniors.

What We Don’t Know

The exact causes of long Covid. While researchers have found severe coronavirus infections may lead to more debilitating symptoms, they have yet to discover the exact mechanisms that cause some to continue to experience health issues for months, and even years, after infection.

Further Reading

More than 1 in 5 adult Covid survivors in the U.S. may develop long Covid, a C.D.C. study suggests. (New York Times)

Getting Vaccinated After Infection Could Slash Risk Of Long Covid, Study Finds (Forbes)

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