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Both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine can lower the risk of long COVID, study finds

Experts say that getting both rounds of the vaccine promotes significant health benefits

Photo (c) Viorel Poparcea - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from King’s College London emphasized the importance of people following through with both rounds of the COVID-19 vaccine

Their findings showed that should individuals contract the virus after getting both doses of the vaccine, their symptoms aren’t likely to last very long. Though it’s possible to experience COVID-related symptoms for several weeks after infection, having both doses of the vaccine reduces the likelihood of what is known as “long COVID” by nearly 50%. 

“Vaccinations are massively reducing the chances of people getting long COVID in two ways,” said researcher Tim Spector. “Firstly, by reducing the risk of any symptoms by 8 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.” 

Several benefits of getting both shots

For the study, the researchers analyzed data entered into the UK ZOE COVID Symptom Study app from December through July. All participants logged information about their vaccination records, symptoms, and COVID tests.

The study showed that having both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine came with significant health benefits. Though the risk of contracting the virus while fully vaccinated is low, those who did were nearly 50% less likely to develop long COVID, about 75% less likely to be hospitalized, and about 30% less likely to have severe symptoms. 

“COVID-19 vaccines have saved more than 105,000 lives and prevented over 24 million infections in England alone,” Sajid Javid, the U.K. secretary of state for health and social care, said. “This research is encouraging, suggesting vaccines are not only preventing deaths but could also help prevent some of the longer-lasting symptoms.” 

The researchers did learn that some groups remain at risk of contracting COVID even after vaccination. They found that older people and those who live in low-income areas are at the greatest risk of getting infected post-vaccination. 

“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 researcher Dr. Claire Steves. “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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