Posted BY: Kyle Becker

“Long Covid” has long been the media’s justification for people to get vaccinated for Covid-19, regardless of prior infection to the virus. However, a recent longitudinal study by the National Institute of Health has thrown into question whether vaccines have strong efficacy against “long Covid.”

As explained in Nature Medicine, post-acute sequelae of Covid-19 or PASC, also called “long COVID,” is “an umbrella term used to describe chronic outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection.” It states that a “prominent subset of patients with PASC includes those who experience a syndrome characterized by unexplained exertion intolerance, debilitating fatigue, cognitive and sensory disturbances, headaches, myalgia, and recurrent flu-like symptoms.” Covid-19 is not unique in triggering such lingering debilitating symptoms, the authors point out.

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On Wednesday, Nature Medicine published a new report that shows vaccination does not appear to provide nearly the amount of protection against “long Covid” as was previously claimed.

“The post-acute sequelae of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection—also referred to as Long COVID—have been described, but whether breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection (BTI) in vaccinated people results in post-acute sequelae is not clear,” the Nature Medicine study states.

“In this study, we used the US Department of Veterans Affairs national healthcare databases to build a cohort of 33,940 individuals with BTI and several controls of people without evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including contemporary (n = 4,983,491), historical (n = 5,785,273) and vaccinated (n = 2,566,369) controls. At 6 months after infection, we show that, beyond the first 30 days of illness, compared to contemporary controls, people with BTI exhibited a higher risk of death (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.75, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.59, 1.93) and incident post-acute sequelae (HR = 1.50, 95% CI: 1.46, 1.54), including cardiovascular, coagulation and hematologic, gastrointestinal, kidney, mental health, metabolic, musculoskeletal and neurologic disorders.”

“The results were consistent in comparisons versus the historical and vaccinated controls,” the study adds. “Compared to people with SARS-CoV-2 infection who were not previously vaccinated (n = 113,474), people with BTI exhibited lower risks of death (HR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.58, 0.74) and incident post-acute sequelae (HR = 0.85, 95% CI: 0.82, 0.89). Altogether, the findings suggest that vaccination before infection confers only partial protection in the post-acute phase of the disease; hence, reliance on it as a sole mitigation strategy may not optimally reduce long-term health consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The findings emphasize the need for continued optimization of strategies for primary prevention of BTI and will guide development of post-acute care pathways for people with BTI.”

The statistical upshot of the 0.66 HR or “Hazard Ratio” is that vaccines appear to be 33% effective at preventing mortality after Covid-19 breakthrough infections versus the mortality rate for those who were unvaccinated and became infected with Covid-19.

Critically, the Covid vaccines were only 15% effective at preventing “Long Covid.” This analysis was corroborated by Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist who is a medical analyst for Scripps Research.