Long COVID affects more older adults; shots don’t prevent it

New U.S. analysis on lengthy COVID-19 offers contemporary proof that it can occur even after breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals, and that older adults face greater dangers for the long-term results.

In a examine of veterans printed Wednesday, about one-third who had breakthrough infections confirmed indicators of lengthy COVID.

A separate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that as much as a year after an preliminary coronavirus an infection, 1 in 4 adults aged 65 and older had no less than one potential lengthy COVID well being downside, in contrast with 1 in 5 youthful adults.

Long COVID refers to any of more than two dozens signs that linger, recur or first seem no less than one month after a coronavirus an infection. These can have an effect on all elements of the physique and should embrace fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog and blood clots.

Coronavirus vaccines that assist prevent preliminary infections and severe diseases present some safety towards lengthy COVID however mounting analysis reveals not as a lot as scientists had first hoped.

The veterans examine printed in Nature Medicine reviewed medical information of principally white male veterans, aged 60, on common. Of the 13 million veterans, nearly 3 million had been vaccinated final year, by October.

About 1%, or almost 34,000, developed breakthrough infections. Lead creator Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly famous that the examine was accomplished earlier than the extremely contagious omicron variant appeared on the finish of the year and mentioned the rate of breakthrough infections has possible elevated.

Breakthrough infections and lengthy COVID signs have been more widespread amongst those that had acquired Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot in contrast with two doses of both Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Whether any had acquired booster shots is just not identified; the primary booster wasn’t OK’d within the U.S. till late September.

Overall, 32% had lengthy COVID signs as much as six months after breakthrough infections. That’s in contrast with 36% of unvaccinated veterans who had been contaminated and developed lengthy COVID.

Vaccination lowered the possibilities for any lengthy COVID signs by a “modest” 15%,” though it minimize the chance in half for lingering respiratory or clotting issues, mentioned Al-Aly, a researcher with Washington University and the Veterans Affairs well being system in St. Louis. These signs included persistent shortness of breath or cough and blood clots in lungs or veins within the legs.

Infectious illness skilled Dr. Kristin Englund, who runs a middle for lengthy COVID sufferers on the Cleveland Clinic, mentioned the Nature Medicine examine mirrors what she sees at her clinic. Long COVID sufferers there embrace individuals who have been vaccinated and acquired boosters.

“As we have no clear treatments for long COVID, it is important for everyone to get vaccinated and use other proven methods of prevention such as masking and social distancing in order to prevent infections with COVID and thus long COVID,’’ Englund said.

The CDC report, released Tuesday, used medical records for almost 2 million U.S. adults from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to last November. They included 353,000 who had COVID-19. Patients were tracked for up to a year to determine if they developed any of 26 health conditions that have been attributed to long COVID.

Those who had COVID were much more likely than other adults without COVID to develop at least one of these conditions, and risks were greatest for those aged 65 and older. Information on vaccination, sex and race was not included.

Breathing problems and muscle aches were among the most common conditions.

Older adults’ risks were higher for certain conditions, including strokes, brain fog, kidney failure and mental health problems. The findings are worrisome because those conditions can hasten older adults’ needs for long-term care, the report authors said.

They stressed that routine assessment of all COVID patients “is critical to reduce the incidence” of lengthy COVID.


Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner.


The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely liable for all content material.

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