Majority Of Long COVID Patients Were Vaccinated?!

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Did a new study just show that majority of Long COVID patients were vaccinated?! Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Majority Of Long COVID Patients Were Vaccinated!

People are sharing an Epoch Times article, which claims that a study just found that majority of Long COVID patients were vaccinated!

Here is an excerpt from the Epoch Times article, which people are using to suggest or imply that the COVID-19 vaccines are either useless, or increase the risk of developing Long COVID.

Study Finds Majority of Patients With Long COVID Were Vaccinated

Mass vaccination and available antiviral treatments have not prevented vaccinated individuals from experiencing lingering COVID-19 symptoms.

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Did New Study Show Vaccines Causes Long COVID?!

 

Truth : Vaccines Reduce Risk Of Long COVID!

Let’s take a look at the claims made in the Epoch Times article, and find out what the facts really are!

Fact #1 : It Was An Observational Study By Telephone

Let me start by pointing out that the study in question was an observational study that was conducted by telephone. You can read the paper in full – Long-COVID Prevalence and Its Association with Health Outcomes in the Post-Vaccine and Antiviral-Availability Era by Ramida Jangnin et. al.

This is important because it appears that the 390 patients were not clinically diagnosed with Long COVID. Rather, they were diagnosed with COVID-19, and the researchers interviewed them by “telephone every three months for a period of one year“.

In short – the reliability of the Long COVID diagnosis is highly dependent on what the patients reported, or are willing to tell the researchers. In addition, the list of physical and mental symptoms the researchers looked at are not exclusive to Long COVID, and may be manifestations of pre-existing or unrelated ailments:

  • physical : fatigue, cough, sore throat, rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • mental : attention deficit, sleep disturbance, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder

Observational studies like this cannot prove causality. Perhaps that’s why the study authors themselves pointed out that further prospective research is needed to establish any causality.

However, given the observational nature of our study, further prospective research is needed to establish causal relationships, and longitudinal studies are advised to track the evolution of long-COVID symptoms over time. 

To be clear – you cannot use observational studies like this as evidence of causality. This study does not show that COVID-19 vaccines cannot prevent Long COVID. Neither does it show that COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of Long COVID.

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Majority Of Long COVID Patients Were Vaccinated?!

Fact #2 : Study Did Not Look At Vaccine Effect On Long COVID

I should also point out that this Thai study was not actually designed to look at the effect of COVID-19 vaccination alone on Long COVID.

Not only did it not have a control group of unvaccinated people, almost all of its participants received both COVID-19 vaccinations and antiviral treatment!

In fact, the study did not mention whether anyone was unvaccinated. So it is highly likely that all its participants were at least either fully-vaccinated, or had antiviral treatment!

The cohort consisted of 390 participants… Among them, 96.7% (n = 377) were vaccinated, and 98.2% (n = 383) underwent antiviral treatment.

So how do we know if the Long COVID was caused by the COVID-19 infection itself, the COVID-19 vaccines, or the antiviral treatment? We don’t, because this observational study was never designed to elicit such information in the first place!

Fact #3 : Almost All Study Participants Were Vaccinated!

I should stress yet again, that almost all of the participants (94.8%) in this Thai study were fully vaccinated:

  • 40.5% received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while
  • 54.3% received two doses, and a booster dose.

This is important because such a study would inevitably show that people who were vaccinated can suffer from Long COVID. That doesn’t mean that the vaccines cause Long COVID.

If the same study was conducted on only male patients, it would show that only men had Long COVID. Would that mean that only men get Long COVID? Of course, not. That is only the perception that you may get if the study was conducted on only men.

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Fact #4 : Studies Do Not Link Long COVID To Vaccines

The Epoch Times article included a list of studies it claimed or suggested show a link between Long COVID and vaccination. That’s not accurate:

The February 2024 report by the CDC did not link Long COVID to vaccination. In fact, the CDC report pointed out that “information about COVID-19 vaccination … is not included in this report“.

The February 2023 study published in the Journal of Medical Virology only looked at levels of spike proteins and viral RNA in COVID-19 patients. It did not mention anything about vaccines, or link Long COVID to vaccination.

The August 2023 study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases only showed that that the risk of Long COVID was higher with the wild-type SARS-CoV-2, compared to the Alpha, Delta and Omicron variants. It did not show a link between COVID-19 vaccines and Long COVID.

The 2023 study in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences only identified viral spike protein in one COVID-19 patient, and vaccine spike protein in two patients after COVID-19 vaccination, out of 81 Long COVID patients. It did not show a link between the Long COVID and vaccination.

The December 2022 study in PLoS One did not conclude that receiving COVID-19 vaccines was a predictor of long COVID, calling it “an observational paradox” and a “collider bias” due to their study only looking at patients who received hospital care. I wrote an extensive article on this earlier, after The Epoch Times (again?!) covered it as “a new study“.

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Fact #5 : Studies Have Shown Vaccines Reduce Long COVID Risk

Many prior studies, involving millions of people – both vaccinated and unvaccinated, have concluded that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of Long COVID.

A March 2024 study published in The Lancet, involving over 20 million people in the UK, Spain and Estonia, concluded that “vaccination against COVID-19 consistently reduced the risk of long COVID symptoms, which highlights the importance of vaccination to prevent persistent COVID-19 symptoms, particularly in adults“.

A February 2024 study published in Nature Communications, involving 1.1 million patients in Hong Kong, provided “real-world evidence supporting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in reducing the risk of long-term health consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection and its persistence following infection“.

A March 2023 meta-analysis of 17 different studies on the effects of vaccines on Long COVID concluded that:

The evidence presented herein recommends SARS-CoV-2 vaccination for the prevention of long COVID in breakthrough cases. Furthermore, evidence does not support that SARS-CoV-2 vaccination exacerbates long COVID symptoms. Thus, most patients with long COVID should be vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2.

As you can see – much larger studies have already shown that COVID-19 vaccines not only do not increase the risk of Long COVID, getting vaccinated will actually reduce your risk of getting Long COVID should you get infected.

Hence, it is no surprise that the US CDC has pointed out that “Vaccination offers protection against the prolonged effects of #COVID19“.

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Long COVID vaccines CDC advice

Fact #6 : The Epoch Times Is Known For Misinformation

The Epoch Times, a media company associated with the Falun Gong religious movement, is known for promoting conspiracy theories and misinformation. Here are some Epoch Times articles that I have fact checked in the past:

I would highly recommend that you do not believe, or share, any articles published or promoted by The Epoch Times, without first verifying their accuracy and the facts.

Please help us FIGHT FAKE NEWS by sharing this fact check article out, and please SUPPORT our work!

Don’t forget to protect yourself, and your family, by vaccinating against COVID-19!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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