Study: 2 or More COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Reduces Most Long COVID Symptoms

Investigators find 8 of 10 of the most common symptoms were reported between 50% and 80% less often among those who received at least 2 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccinations.

Two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines dramatically reduces most of the long-term symptoms after contracting COVID-19, according to the results of a study published in npj Vaccines.

Investigators found that 8 of 10 of the most reported symptoms were reported between 50% and 80% less often among those who received at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine compared with those who received no doses.

“We don’t fully understand what happens in the months and years following COVID-19 in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Michael Edelstein, MSc, of Bar-Ilan's Azrieli Faculty, said in a statement.

“Because long COVID seems to affect so many people, it was important to us to check whether vaccines could help alleviate the symptoms,” he said. “It is becoming increasingly clear that vaccines protect not just against disease but, as the results of this study suggest, against long-term, sometimes life-changing, effects of COVID-19.”

Edelstein led the study in cooperation with infectious disease and information technology teams at 3 affiliated hospitals in northern Israel, including Baruch Padeh Medical Center, Galilee Medical Center, and Ziv Medical Center.

In the study, investigators included approximately 3500 adults across Israel, between July 2021 and November 2021. The individuals in the study completed a survey available in 4 commonly spoken local languages, including Arabic, English, Hebrew, Russian. The survey included questions about previous COVID-19 infection, vaccination status, and any symptoms the individuals were experiencing.

More than half the individuals reported no previous severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2infection, while 951 were previously infected. Of those infected, 67% had received at least 2 vaccine doses.

Of those with no previous infection, 0.9% received 1 dose, 48.8% received 2 doses, 30.4% received 3 doses, and 19.9% were unvaccinated.

The investigators compared vaccinated individuals with those who were unvaccinated in terms of post-acute self-reported symptoms. After adjusting for age and time elapsed from infection to response of the survey, the investigators also found that vaccination with 2 or more doses of the Pfizer vaccine was associated with a reduced risk of reporting the most common long COVID symptoms.

In the current study group, the most common symptoms included fatigue, headaches, persistent muscle pain, and weakness of limbs, which were reduced by 62%, 50%, 66%, and 62%, respectively.

Other symptoms were reduced up to 80%, including shortness of breath.

However, the extent of protection from vaccinated of long COVID is still unclear, investigators said.

This study was the first in an ongoing project to track a large cohort of individuals from all sectors of Israel’s diverse society with the aim of understanding the impact of the vaccines on different COVID-18 variants, long COVID symptoms, and long-term quality of life,.

Reference

Vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of long-term effects of COVID-19. News release. EurekAlert. September 8, 2022. Accessed September 8, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/964014