A: Likely! There is good biological reason to think so, but like many things we lack hard data.
Many followers have asked this great question in recent weeks. Clinical trials have shown the vaccines are AMAZING at preventing serious disease and death. But what about those mild infections after a vaccine, could they still lead to Long Covid?
The trials have not reported anything on this specific endpoint (and recall only a small number of vaccinated people became infected), but in theory they can follow up on vaccinated trial members who tested positive to ask about Long Covid symptoms (fingers crossed). Other researchers are gathering data by following up on vaccinated individuals outside of the trials.
One way vaccines can prevent Long Covid is by preventing infection in the first place. Recall in the Moderna trial, participants were tested at their second visit 4 weeks later, and the vaccine group had 67% fewer positive infections at that stage. This protection only grows over time and with the second dose.
🔥No acute infections, no Long Covid.
As for the small % with mild infection after vaccination, so far immunologists can only speculate. We queried immunologist Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, who was optimistic that vaccines would quickly stop viral replication in the body, not providing an opportunity for the development of autoimmunity or a persistent viral reservoir that could cause Long Covid.
Basically, vaccine-induced immunity should speed up “viral clearance” allowing less opportunity for the virus to wreak long-term havoc.
This idea has been bolstered by anecdotal evidence that Long Covid symptoms are actually getting BETTER after vaccination.
Dr. Iwasaki outlined several possible biological reasons for this in a recent twitter thread.
➡️1) Vaccine induced T-cell and antibody responses could eliminate viral reservoirs in body tissues.
➡️2) Likewise, viral fragments or remnants that are irritating the immune system could be eliminated by vaccine-induced immunity against the spike protein.
➡️3) The vaccines could divert autoimmune cells away from their inflammatory response (though this effect might be temporary).
Long Covid may be a mix of all these mechanisms, and Dr. Iwasaki proposes experiments that could test each specific hypothesis, which would also shed light on the underlying causes of Long Covid.
🔥 While more data is (always!) needed, the signs look good that vaccines will dramatically reduce the burden of Long Covid as well as severe disease and death.
Those Nerdy Girls