Vaccination against Coronavirus lowers risk of long COVID after infection by only 15 percent, study shows

New research out of America has found vaccination against Coronavirus lowers the risk of long COVID after infection by only about 15 percent.

That’s according to research published in Nature Medicine on Thursday, which studied 13 million veterans. 

The research also found vaccinated people can still suffer from the effects of long COVID six months after first getting the virus.  

Dr Anna Brooks, a cellular immunologist and long COVID researcher from the University of Auckland told AM on Thursday she wasn't "surprised by the results". 

"The most alarming thing in the study is that vaccines aren't protecting well enough against the long-term impacts," she told AM Early host Bernadine Oliver-Kerby.

Brooks said vaccination is key for preventing severe illness, but it's what happens if the virus gets through your defence system that worries her. 

"So when we get what's called a breakthrough infection, which means we are vaccinated, we are protected and our immune system is ready to fight when we get infected despite all of that it means this virus can still do damage," she said. 

"What this study shows is that the risk of going on to get those long-term illnesses is only reduced by 15 percent, so it's telling us to try and not get infected and if you have been infected keep avoiding it."  

Brooks urged people to listen to their bodies after getting infected and not rush back into exercise. 

"We are really pointing out if you do notice that it is harder to return to exercise or you're getting this on-set of fatigue, stop and rest," she said. 

"There is so little emphasis on the need to essentially rest after such an impact on the body even if you get it mildly. So that is a key message as well, Omicron is not mild on our bodies, even silent damage could be happening.

"The message is very firm and strong that we need to limit exposure to this virus so we can limit long-term impacts."  

Dr Anna Brooks, is a cellular immunologist and Long COVID researcher from the University of Auckland.
Dr Anna Brooks, is a cellular immunologist and Long COVID researcher from the University of Auckland. Photo credit: AM

Brooks told AM Early long COVID is essentially a post-viral illness with over 200 symptoms.

"Long COVID is the essentially the constellation of symptoms that people can experience after their infection and the classifying time at which this kicks in or is defined clinically is if you're still experiencing symptoms at three months," she said. 

"Those symptoms, the top key ones that are extremely debilitating are neurological effects - so essentially brain fog  - and debilitating fatigue - the bone-numbing extreme fatigue that usually really kicks in after any kind of exertion, that is mental or physical exertion. "

Watch the full interview with Dr Anna Brooks above.