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Fully vaccinated people are half as likely to develop ‘Long COVID’ symptoms: study

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Fully vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections of COVID-19 are 50 per cent less likely to experience “Long COVID” in comparison to unvaccinated people who are infected with the disease, a new study suggests.

The report, published by researchers in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Wednesday, found that people who received the full two doses of the vaccine but still found themselves contracting the novel coronavirus had the chance of experiencing long-term symptoms cut by half.

Many patients who’ve contracted COVID-19 and survived have normally been able to recover within just a few weeks — though some have experienced harrowing long-term symptoms from the virus.

The long term symptoms include experiencing a plethora of effects such as fatigue, pain, difficulty in breathing, hypertension and cognitive problems described by many as “brain fogs” for 28 days or more after testing positive for the virus.

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“In terms of the burden of Long COVID, it’s good news that our research has found that having a double vaccination significantly reduces the risk of both catching the virus and if you do, developing long-standing symptoms,” said Dr. Claire Steves, the study’s lead author in a press release.

“However, among our frail, older adults and those living in deprived areas, the risk is still significant and they should be urgently prioritized for second and booster vaccinations.”

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The study based its data on over 1.2 million adults surveyed in the U.K.’s Covid Symptom Study, which had volunteers use a mobile app to manually log in symptoms and vaccination records.

The participants also included people who had received one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines between December and July, as well as several unvaccinated people that served as a control group.

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A white paper study published in June that hasn’t been peer-reviewed found that nearly a quarter of COVID-19 patients reported new health issues long after they had recovered from the disease, while a recent review of data from the Public Health Agency of Canada also pointed to more than half of COVID-19 patients suffering from long-term symptoms over 12 weeks after testing positive.

To date, over 1.45 million Canadians have contracted the disease and survived.

The potential for such a large amount of COVID-19 “long-haulers” in Canada alone has become a cause for concern, with many of those still feeling the symptoms saying they’re falling through the cracks of their private and workplace insurance.

Other notable results from the study, included findings that suggested fully vaccinated people were over 70 per cent less likely to be hospitalized, and had an 31 per cent less chances of developing acute COVID-19 symptoms.

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Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London who also worked on the study pointed to vaccinations as “massively” reducing peoples’ chances of experiencing Long COVID in two ways.

“Firstly, by reducing the risk of any symptoms by eight to 10 fold and then by halving the chances of any infection turning into Long COVID, if it does happen. The duration of symptoms we are seeing with infections after two vaccinations are also much milder, so vaccines are really changing the disease and for the better,” he said.

“We are encouraging people to get their second jab as soon as they can.”

— With files from Erica Alini and Leslie Young

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