Researchers stumbled upon a new discovery about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines against long COVID in a new study published this week.
While most studies have reported that the COVID-19 vaccines can hold up strong against hospitalization and death, a new paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Medicine found that they offer little protection against long COVID — a condition that is on the rise amid the ongoing pandemic.
According to the team behind the study, the risk of developing post-COVID syndrome was cut by only about 15% in fully vaccinated individuals compared to people who have not been vaccinated at all.
“The vaccines are miraculous at doing what they were designed to do,” Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s lead author, said while pointing out that they could prevent hospitalization and death.
However, the clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis pointed out that the jabs only offered “very modest protection against long COVID.”
Although the findings are disappointing, Al-Aly and his colleagues were not surprised at all, CNBC reported. That’s because the vaccines were developed early on in the pandemic when the medical community was still oblivious about long COVID.
Al-Aly even told the news outlet that the vaccines were never designed to protect people against post-COVID syndrome in the first place because the makers never anticipated the long-term complications of the viral disease.
For the study, the team examined data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of nearly 34,000 vaccinated people with breakthrough infection and compared it with data from more than 113,000 people who were unvaccinated when they contracted COVID-19 from January 2021 through October 2021.
The researchers did a follow-up six months later to check if the patients developed lingering symptoms after battling a breakthrough case of COVID-19. They found that the vaccinated individuals only had little protection against long COVID from the vaccines.
Interestingly, even though the protection afforded by the vaccines against long COVID was relatively small, it was able to prevent the more life-threatening complications of the post-COVID syndrome.
Al-Aly, also chief of research at the V.A. St. Louis Health Care System, said their findings only suggest that “we need to revisit [the vaccines] now that we know that the virus can also produce long-term consequences.