Long Covid and the Covid-19 Vaccine
Does the Covid vaccine help long Covid? We all know the feeling of being tired from time to time. Many of us recover with time, but with “Long Covid”, tiredness is just one of the many symptoms. Long Covid affects over 170 million people across the globe and affects everyone very differently.
There is no medical proof yet, but surveys being conducted show there is a pattern emerging that people who have been diagnosed with long covid may have symptoms ease once they have had the covid vaccine.
What is the scale of Long Covid in the UK?
Long Covid symptoms are symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after a suspected infection of Covid-19 that are not explained or linked to something else. In the UK an estimated 962,000 people (1.49% of the population) reported experiencing Long Covid (as of 4th July 2021). These are self-reported cases and not clinically reported cases. The ONS (Office for National Statistics are due to release the next report on the Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (Covid-19) infection in the UK on 2 September 2021. This is the current survey data release from 5 August 2021.
What is Long Covid?
Whilst there is no agreed definition of Long Covid, it is agreed that there are many common symptoms that most people have long Covid when reporting they suffer with Long Covid. People who reported symptoms of Long Covid had or suspected they had Covid-19 within a 12-week period prior to these symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
Despite no official agreed definition of Long Covid there are many common symptoms that are reported.
These include symptoms reported at the time of a positive Covid-19 test:
- Abdominal pain or unusual discomfort
- Brain Fog
- Muscle aches or pain
- Loss of taste or smell (Both at the same time is possible)
- Shortness of breath
Reported long Covid symptoms are affecting the day-to-day activities of 674,000 people in the UK. As many as 196,000 of these individuals report an inability to undertake their normal day-to-day activities.
What are the affects of Long Covid?
Lasting effects adversely affected the day-to-day activities of 611,000 people (64.7% of those with self-reported long COVID), with 182,000 (19.3%) reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”.
Fatigue is the most common symptom reported as part of individuals, followed by shortness of breath, muscle ache, and loss of smell. Symptoms can ease in cases, but often flare up again leaving a long-lasting effect on the individual.
Does the Covid-19 Vaccine help relieve symptoms?
As the vaccine rollout became more of a push, there where some concerns that the vaccines could cause a relapse or worsening symptoms in Long Covid suffers. Unexpectedly, reports suggested that the vaccine helped some with Long Covid.
The data has yet to be properly reviewed and was based on a survey of 812 people with Long Covid. These people were contacted via social media and were asked to wait a week after their first vaccine dose. This was to avoid any side-effects of the vaccine being included in the survey.
Covid study results
Using the most common Long Covid symptoms, they were compared before and after the first vaccine dose. It showed that 56.7% of those who participated experienced overall improvements in their symptoms, 24.6% said their symptoms remained unchanged and 18.7% said they experienced a deterioration in their symptoms.
It appears at this stage, those who received the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines reported better improvement in a reduction in symptoms, compared to those who got Oxford AstraZeneca. The study showed, those who received the Moderna vaccine were more likely to see improvements and less likely to report a deterioration in symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- Muscle pain
What are the long-term prospects?
All we know currently is there are a vast array of people reporting symptoms of Long Covid. Some of these suffers have also been diagnosed with other chronic conditions such as:
Both have their own pre-defining diagnosis points that all slightly differ from each other, but often include extreme tiredness and brain fog, along with some level of body or joint aches and pains.
Long Covid is being more widely recognised than many other chronic conditions. There is no direct answer to why these conditions happen, or how to solve them. Chronic conditions are very personal to the sufferer and symptoms and treatment varies greatly.
With very little being known at this stage, the road ahead looks rocky for a cure or effective long-term treatment. Long Covid has sparked a bigger interest than there was in the chronic illness community.
There are surveys showing that depending on what vaccine you receive, you may get an easing of Long Covid symptoms, but no-one knows why this may be. The main thing to remember is the vaccine will add future protection from Covid, so it is well worth considering from that point of view alone.
Will Long Covid impact the care sector?
So many people are reporting a huge reduction in their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This could lead to a rise in the need for addition care. In the current climate, live-in care may not be the solution, except for in a few cases, but many are likely to see some benefit to carry out general day-to-day tasks supported by visiting care.