The coronavirus vaccine could bring an extra benefit to people experiencing long-term issues after having COVID.
New evidence suggests the vaccine may be the key to helping some people experiencing long-haul symptoms find relief.
Jessamyn Smyth said her happy place is in the water. A year ago, she contracted COVID-19 and suffered lingering effects that left her breathless, tired, with brain fog and unable to swim.
“I was unable to ever really achieve a full breath. I could not fill my lungs,” Smyth said. “I was terrified that I would never be able to swim again.”
Smyth got Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in February.
“Within a matter of days after the second shot I began to feel almost like myself,” Smyth said.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that between 30 to 40 percent of COVID-19 long-haulers like Smyth could experience vaccine-induced relief from the symptoms.
“If the long-haul diseases is caused by persistent virus infection, then the vaccine-induced immunity will be able to clear the persistent virus reservoir and basically eliminate the source of the symptoms,” Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki said.
Or it could be that the body’s immune cells are what’s keeping people sick and the vaccine calms them down. It’s also possible that the vaccine’s not helping at all.
“Many people get spontaneously better anyway. And if you get vaccinated and you get better, you are not sure whether it’s the vaccine or the spontaneous recovery. So you’ll have to do a randomized trial in order to determine that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Smyth believes the vaccine did help turn her symptoms around. She has been able to get back to swimming.
“I swam my first mile back in the pool and hit the wall and hung on to it and burst into tears and just hung there sobbing with joy and relief that I knew that my body could do this,” Smyth said.
The CDC said multi-year studies are underway on the short-term and long-term health effects of COVID-19.
It’s recommended that COVID survivors do get vaccinated, to extend their natural immunity and reduce the risk of infection.