COVID-19 Vaccine for Long-Haulers: A Surprising Benefit?

April 9, 2021

We are in the COVID-19 pandemic over one year now and still learning something new about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. One of the serious and mysterious aspects of COVID-19 is long-term symptoms that persist for a significant period after SARS-CoV-2 infection as previously discussed. Many patients who recovered not only from the severe disease, COVID-19, but also mild and moderate disease, have experienced long-term consequences. Commonly reported symptoms are fatigue, dyspnea, joint pain and chest pain, and loss of taste and smell, and/or neurological and psychiatric consequences (i.e., intracranial haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, parkinsonism, Guillain-Barré syndrome, nerve, nerve root, and plexus disorders; myoneural junction and muscle disease, encephalitis, dementia, psychotic, mood, and anxiety disorders, and insomnia). Thus, these resulted in a decline in quality of life. This long-haul is one of the challenges in dealing with COVID-19.

Interestingly, some people who suffered from COVID-19 long-haul have stated disappearance of their symptoms after their vaccinations, thus adding another puzzling clinical development of COVID-19. A small size of cohort study in the UK also demonstrated that vaccinated people with Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca had a small overall improvement in long-term symptoms, with a decrease in worsening symptoms and increase in symptom resolution compared to unvaccinated people (1). This study concluded that receipt of vaccination was not associated with a worsening of long-term symptoms, quality of life, or mental wellbeing. This is an encouraging news for individuals with prolonged COVID-19 symptoms.

Currently, it is unclear how immune systems in these individuals are responding to the virus and vaccines. It is requiring further research and establishment of health care systems to improve mental and physical health of survivors of COVID-19 in the long term. The National Institutes of Health is also planning to support the research program for long-haul covid-19.

Reference

Are vaccines safe in patients with Long COVID? A prospective observational study
MedRxiv, March 14, 2021