Adults who are fully vaccinated against Covid are nearly 50% less likely to suffer from long Covid symptoms, a new study shows.
Long Covid – a blanket term for a number of alarming symptoms like joint pain, insomnia and ‘brain fog’ – has been a bit of a mystery.
In June, Metro.co.uk reported that experts were still unsure if vaccines would stop people being struck down by long Covid.
However, researchers at King’s College London have now made a breakthrough, finding that chances of getting long Covid drops by 47% after two jabs.
Double vaccination is now also said to reduce your chances of being hospitalised by 73%, and the likelihood of developing severe symptoms cut by almost a third.
Professor Tim Spector from King’s College, and lead investigator of the Zoe Covid study, said about the findings: ‘Vaccinations are massively reducing the chances of people getting 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.
‘Whatever the duration of symptoms, we are seeing that infections after two vaccinations are also much milder, so vaccines are really changing the disease and for the better.
‘We are encouraging people to get their second jab as soon as they can.’
The team analysed data from more than two million people logging their symptoms, tests and vaccine status on the UK Zoe Covid Symptom Study app between December 8 2020 and July 4 this year.
What are the symptoms of long Covid according to the NHS?
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (‘brain fog’)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
Some 6,030 app users reported testing positive for Covid-19 at least 14 days after their first vaccination but before their second, while 2,370 reported testing positive at least seven days after their second dose.
The most common symptoms, such as loss of smell, a cough, fever, headaches and fatigue, were milder and less frequently reported by people who were jabbed, the study suggested.
They also said people were half as likely to get multiple symptoms in the first week of illness.
Sneezing was the only symptom more common in those who had a first dose compared with those who had none.
People aged 60 or older who had both doses of a vaccine were more likely to have no symptoms at all than those who had not been jabbed, the study suggested.
The lead researcher, Dr Claire Steves, also from King’s College, said the good news was that being double jabbed ‘significantly reduces the risk of both catching the virus and, of developing long-standing symptoms’.
But she added: ‘Among our frail, older adults and those living in deprived areas the risk is still significant and they should be urgently prioritised for second and booster vaccinations.’
The findings will be relevant for health policies post-vaccination, and highlight the need to balance personal protective measures in those at risk of post-vaccination infection with the adverse effects from ongoing social restrictions, according to the research team.