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Vaccinations associated with reduced risks of Long COVID, new ARC East Midlands study finds

Symptoms of Long COVID can decrease by more than 12 per cent after being vaccinated, latest research supported by NIHR ARC East Midlands published in the British Medical Journal has revealed. 

A first vaccine dose was associated with a reduction in the likelihood of continuous symptoms of COVID-19 by 12.8 per cent, while the second was associated a further reduction of 8.8 per cent, according to the study conducted by University of Leicester.  

Between February 3 and September 5, 2021, the team of academics and government statisticians assessed the results of the Office for National Statistics’ COVID-19 Infection Survey to examine the health outcomes of 28,356 people who had received a vaccine after contracting the coronavirus.    

More than 23 per cent of the participants went on to experience symptoms of Long COVID 12 weeks after they were infected with the virus. 

According to the results, a first vaccine dose initially reduced symptoms of Long COVID.  

Meanwhile, the researchers have found that the likelihood of symptoms of the condition fell by by 8.8 per cent after a second jab, with a subsequent decrease by 0.8 per cent per week over a median follow-up time of 67 days.  

In addition, the findings have reported that there is no evidence of association between vaccination and Long COVID by sociodemographic characteristics, health status, hospital admission with acute COVID-19, vaccine type or duration from infection to vaccination.  

The research was supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) East Midlands and NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre.

Researcher Daniel Ayoubkhani, of the University of Leicester and the Office for National Statistics, a PhD student funded by NIHR ARC East Midlands, said: “There are nearly 2 million people in the UK currently experiencing ongoing symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our results suggest that vaccinating people previously infected may be associated with a reduction in the burden of Long COVID on population health, at least in the first few months after vaccination. 

“Further research is required to evaluate the long-term relationship between vaccination and Long COVID, in particular the impact of the omicron variant, which has become dominant in the UK.”

Professor Kamlesh Khunti CBE, Director of NIHR ARC East Midlands and the Real World Evidence Unit and Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “The findings have reported that people with Long COVID who experience dysregulation of the immune system may benefit from autoimmune processes being reset by vaccination. Any residual viral reservoir may also be destroyed by the antibody response.”

He concluded: “More research into this area is needed to understand the biological mechanisms underpinning any improvements in symptoms after vaccination, which may contribute to the development of therapeutics for Long COVID.” 

The study, ‘Trajectory of Long COVID symptoms after COVID-19 vaccination: community based cohort study’ is now available in the British Medical Journal.   

To access the full research study, click here.     

Published on: 30 May 2022