Long COVID – What You Need to Know￼
As many countries (including Canada) shift into a post-pandemic environment, there are still important aspects to be aware of. The first is that there is still a risk of contracting COVID-19. People who are fully vaccinated can still get COVID-19. However, as explained on a Canadian Government website: “evidence indicates that vaccines used in Canada are very effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
While vaccines have helped so many of us to return to some sense of normalcy, COVID-19 is still around, and we need to be aware of that and be considerate, compassionate and respectful.
There are also many people who are dealing with long COVID (sometimes called post-acute COVID). According to the U.S.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), post-COVID conditions can include a wide range of health issues that can last for weeks, months or even years. While it was initially believed that long COVID conditions were found in people who had severe COVID infections, those with mild symptoms and those who were asymptomatic have also been diagnosed with long COVID.
The CDC also reports that “People who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and become infected may also be at a higher risk of developing post-COVID conditions compared to people who were vaccinated and had breakthrough infections.” This is yet another good reason to get vaccinated.
Emory University published a piece on their website (in March 2022) that is informative on this topic. It is a part of a video segment discussion between Dr. Jodie Guest, PhD, professor and vice chair of the department of epidemiology at Emory Rollins School of Public Health and Dr. Alex Truong, co-director of the post-COVID clinic at Emory’s Executive Park. Dr. Truong is also an assistant professor in the area of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. You can view the piece here.
According to a February 2022 article in Scientific American, “…Because the wildly contagious Omicron [variant] has affected so many millions of people, if only a small fraction of those who catch it develop long COVID, millions could be burdened with symptoms for months, if not years.”
The article goes on to say that “one positive factor that could decrease Omicron’s long impact is the prevalence of vaccinations.” It also notes that “The shots not only reduce the risk of serious illnesses in the first place; they also lower the chance of developing long COVID in the event of a breakthrough infection.” It states that a study, based on data reported to a free health-tracking mobile phone app by more than a million U.K. adults, suggests that only five percent of individuals who had a breakthrough infection after receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine had any symptoms that lingered for at least 28 days, compared with 11 percent of unvaccinated people who got the disease. For this study, it shows that full vaccination was linked to a risk reduction of more than half. There is still a great deal of data needed to fully understand what the risk of long COVID is for those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated.
People with long COVID have some chilling stories to tell. The Washington Post recently ran a good article on one long-term COVID survivor’s story. It is worth a read.
It is clear that vaccines are crucial in the fight against COVID-19, and while data is still being gathered, at this point, it appears that vaccines are also key in reducing the risk of long COVID. If you aren’t vaccinated, please speak to your doctor about the safety and efficacy of vaccines – there is clear data showing that they are both safe and effective.
The Acuitas Therapeutics team continues to work with our partners on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. We also partner with organizations around the world as they continue to advance treatments for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, rabies, malaria and other serious diseases. Global acceptance of the safety and efficacy of mRNA therapeutics is now a reality, and there is an exceptional and sustainable future for the innovative work being done at Acuitas Therapeutics. Our goal is always to advance human health, and we are proud of our work in this area.