Jennifer Rigby and Sarah Newey, The Telegraph
The coronavirus vaccine may alleviate the symptoms of people suffering from long Covid, according to patient groups and scientists studying the condition.
Around one in 10 people who test positive for Covid-19 end up with ongoing symptoms for up to 12 weeks, with a smaller number facing problems for much longer.
But now there are anecdotal reports that between 20 and 50 per cent of patients may find their symptoms – which mainly include fatigue, headaches and brain fog – ease post-vaccination, although the effects may be temporary…
Lou Barnes, who coordinates the 4,000-strong Post Covid Syndrome support group, estimates that around 20 per cent have reported some improvement post-vaccine. She added, though, that many people had said that improvements were temporary, lasting for around three weeks, and others had reported feeling worse for a short time, too.
Dr Strain [a clinical senior lecturer at the University of Exeter who runs long Covid clinics and is a member of the NHS taskforce on the condition] said research was being set up to look into the reports more systematically.
“This provides a bit of hope for people who have been struggling with this for 12 months or more, just to feel better for a bit. But also, as researchers it tells us a lot of information: does this give us clues about how we should be treating it? We need to look very carefully,” he said.
Theories about causation
The improvements patients have experienced fit with some of the working hypotheses about why people get long Covid.
One theory is that patients have a “reservoir” of persistent virus in their bodies – for example in their gut – and the antibodies generated by the vaccine help them clear it.
Another explanation is that the boost the immune system gets from the vaccine can help “reset” it – a theory which also applies to similar conditions such as post-viral fatigue syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome.
Professor Eleanor Riley, immunologist at the University of Edinburgh, said:
“One of the hypotheses about chronic fatigue syndrome is that it is a failure of the immune system to reset after a viral infection. And if that’s the case, then giving the immune system a jolt, for example by vaccination, may help to reset. But that is purely speculation.”
She cautioned against taking too much from the reports so far, especially as the current long Covid definition covers both those who had mild illnesses and persistent symptoms, and patients hospitalised with the condition who have long-term organ damage. These groups are likely to have significantly different experiences.
“It’s really interesting. I think it’s something to be followed up by scientific research. But I think we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It’s possible it may turn out to be random,” she added.
MEA Note: It is interesting that we do receive reports from a small number of people with ME/CFS who say they feel surprisingly better after e.g., the flu and/or Covid vaccinations. See the Covid Vaccine poll for recent results.