When the first results for COVID-19 vaccines emerged from Phase 3 trials in the fall of 2020, they were so good that health care professionals practically wept. The official goal for Project Warp Speed set a minimum of 50% efficacy, but the numbers coming off Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech trials were so good that when Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine turned out to be only 85% effective against severe disease and death, that seemed almost like the bush leagues.
The ongoing Greek alphabet of variants has cooled those red-hot topline numbers, but vaccines have remained highly effective in preventing severe illness. As National Medical News reported on Tuesday, a study looking at over 67,000 patients in hospitals across the nation between January and June found that 87.6% were unvaccinated. That’s not all: Another 5% had received their first vaccine jab less than 14 days before being hospitalized and another 4.4% had received their second dose less than 14 days before hospitalization. That means that only 3% of hospitalized patients over the period of study were actually fully vaccinated. So, at least when it comes to preventing severe illness, all of the vaccines approved in the U.S. were not just highly efficient, but astonishingly efficient.
However, there is no doubt that over time, that efficiency has been slowly eroding. The percentage of patients who had “breakthrough” cases and were hospitalized grew steady over the course of the study. A study out of Israel has suggested that immunological response to the COVID-19 vaccines begins to taper after a period—though studies looking directly at the markers of immunity haven’t seen this drop. In any case, the FDA has announced the availability of a booster shot for those who are immunologically compromised (who make up a disproportionate number of breakthrough cases), as well as for everyone else beginning eight months after their initial vaccination.
Even with where the numbers stand now, there’s no doubt that vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19. Being vaccinated is still a better predictor of not developing severe illness than tanking expensive monoclonal antibody treatment Regeneron. It certainly tops getting apple-flavored dewormer paste from the nearest farm and home store.
And it turns out there’s another reason to love your vaccine: It’s not just protecting against severe illness, it’s protecting against lingering illness.
A study published Wednesday by British medical journal The Lancet starts off with the bad news—the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 has barely changed in the U.K., in spite of a rate of vaccination almost 20% higher than that in the United States. People are still going to the ICU. People are still dying. And even though the rate of people who are vaccinated and dying is low, it’s not zero—and not enough to make up for the unvaccinated who are dying.
But, as Stat News reports, there is definitely a good chestnut hidden among the leaves:
“We found that the odds of having symptoms for 28 days or more after post-vaccination infection were approximately halved by having two vaccine doses. This result suggests that the risk of long Covid is reduced in individuals who have received double vaccination, when additionally considering the already documented reduced risk of infection overall.”
So those who have been vaccinated continue to have a degree of protection against getting infected. If they get infected, they have a lower chance of developing illness. If they develop illness, they have a lower chance of severe illness. And this study indicates there is also a lower chance of developing “long COVID.”
Long COVID (also called PASC, for post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection) remains one of the most mysterious issues surrounding the pandemic. Sufferers have reporting persistence of classic COVID-19 symptoms like cough, or loss of the ability to taste and smell. But other problems, like persistent “brain fog,” aches, and exhaustion have also appeared.
Those afflicted with long COVID have been privy to the kind of frustrating dismissal that seems to accompany any lingering and painful disease. While most doctors have recognized this as a real condition, patients can still be easily dismissed or ignored when explaining lingering symptoms. Why COVID-19 leaves such long-term effects, or why they are so varied in location and severity, is poorly understood.
But understand this much: Getting vaccinated helps protect you against long COVID. For some, that alone could be worth it.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.