Some long haul covid patients find relief with the second vaccine

OMG – I am so excited I get to write this sentence: I have good news. In this absolute nightmare we’ve been living for the last 12 months that only seems to unlock new variants of what now!, there seems to be a beam of hope. Long-haul COVID patients have actually found their symptoms decreasing after receiving the vaccine. Patients noticed their muscle pain went away, their energy returned and they finally started sleeping through the night again after they received their second dose. So people trusted in science and science came through for them. The only thing is, science didn’t expect this one and can’t explain why it’s happening.

Arianna Eisenberg endured long-haul covid-19 for eight months, a recurring nightmare of soaking sweats, crushing fatigue, insomnia, brain fog and muscle pain.

But Eisenberg’s tale has a happy ending that neither she nor current medical science can explain. Thirty-six hours after her second shot of coronavirus vaccine last month, her symptoms were gone, and they haven’t returned.

“I really felt back to myself,” the 34-year-old Brooklyn therapist said, “to a way that I didn’t think was possible when I was really sick.”

Some people who have spent months suffering from long-haul covid-19 are taking to social media to report their delight at seeing their symptoms disappear after their vaccinations, leaving experts chasing yet another puzzling clinical development surrounding the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“The only thing that we can safely assume is that an unknown proportion of people who acquire SARS-CoV-2 have long-term symptoms,” said Steven Deeks, an infectious-disease physician at the University of California at San Francisco. “We know the questions. We have no answers. Hard stop.”

Those questions include: If long-haulers are suffering from immune systems that went awry and never reset, why would vaccines — which rev up the immune system — help some of them? Are reservoirs of coronavirus hiding in the body? Are some long-haulers experiencing a placebo effect from the vaccine? Or does the disease simply take longer to run its course in some people?

Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University, said that immunization is likely to reduce the chances of long-term covid-19, based on evidence that shows that vaccines help prevent the disease.

“Vaccines will generate good antibody and T-cell responses. They have been already shown to significantly reduce infection, both symptomatic and asymptomatic,” she said.

[From The Washington Post]

The rest of the article is just as interesting. Several scientists weigh in with their theories about why the vaccine is eliminating symptoms. They range from placebo effect to interactions with prior vaccines for other conditions like shingles to where the infected cells where living in the patients body. To a layman like me, all the theories sound plausible and I’d accept any of them. The only thing everyone in the article agrees on is that they don’t have the proper data to give us any answers yet. They are just starting studies to figure out the long-term effects COVID will have on those who had it. So it’s good that researchers are aware of this phenomenon now, maybe they can include it in those studies and potentially combat long-term effects with what they learn. Any suffering we can avoid from this tragic episode in history, the better. And a little hope can go a very long way.

Another reason to read the full article is because the scientists are trying to be very clinical and say that we don’t really know if this is happening because there’s no reason for it yet. So it might all be placebo and short-lived. But all the regular folk quoted are understandably excited about it.

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Photo credit: Twitter and Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

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16 Responses to “Some long haul covid patients find relief with the second vaccine”

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  1. Merricat says:

    This made me cry. As a long-hauler, thank you so much for posting this, the first sliver of hope that I have felt in almost a year.

  2. Mee yo says:

    This is fantastic news! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve been avoiding the news for awhile to keep my sanity. I would’ve missed this ray of light.

  3. Watcher says:

    Fascinating puzzle but such good news. Yeah they don’t know why it’s working yet, but it’s a sliver of sunlight for those poor folks caught in a never-ending covid struggle.

    • BrainFog says:

      It makes perfect sense to me. I have a chronic auto immune disorder and I have all these symptoms, daily, for the rest of my life. To me they are a side effect of the immune system being busy all the time. If there is some viral load left in the body and the long haulers are constantly fighting to keep the infection at bay, having the vaccine kill the virus off explains (to me) why the immune system can take a much needed rest, and the symptoms would subside.
      This news makes me terribly happy for them.

      • TrixC says:

        The vaccine doesn’t kill the virus though, it just teaches the immune system to recognise and kill it.

  4. Kelly Sunshine says:

    So happy to hear this. While I haven’t feel suffering from the exhaustion and insomnia, I definitely have some of the ‘brain fog’ issues ever since my bout with Covid back at the end of August. I find myself struggling to find words, or just blurting out the wrong word for something, even when I meant to say the correct word. It’s been a very weird experience. I’m hoping that I’m fully back to ‘normal’ after I get the vaccines.

  5. lucy2 says:

    I saw a few people share their experience with this when the vaccines began! It’s such wonderful news and I hope helps a lot of people.
    I’m certainly no scientist or doctor, but it seems like it just gives the immune system a boost to fight off whatever was lingering.
    Thankfully I did not get COVID, but had very similar symptoms for about a year when I had Lyme disease, and it’s misery. I can imagine what a wonderful relief to finally feel that going away.

  6. Libellule says:

    That’s great news, hope it’s really true. I’m one of the long haulers, but unfortunately i’ll be one of the last ones eligible for vaccine

  7. Mina_Esq says:

    To chalk it up to placebo effect is to effectively say that all of the symptoms were just imagined, in the people’s heads. Judging by all the reports from long haulers, their symptoms were very real. I’m so happy to hear this news!

    • Zantasia says:

      Not an expert, but during my masters I learned that placebo effect can account for up to 50% of the effect of some mental health meds—placebo working doesn’t mean that the symptoms aren’t real. It can mean that a feeling of agency, or control over your own future, has helped alleviate symptoms of very real medical problems. Mental state matters when we consider our health. Brain/body connection for the win! But I get what you are saying.

    • Cassie says:

      I wouldn’t say that a placebo effect equates to the original symptoms being imagined…

  8. The Recluse says:

    This is such hopeful news. I hope the vaccine really does help undo all of the suffering the Long Haulers are suffering.