Early data shows vaccine could help some COVID-19 ‘long haulers’

COVID-19 Vaccine

DENVER (KDVR) — More than a year after her initial COVID-19 symptoms appeared, Harper Powell is still fighting lingering effects that impact her daily life.

“I still have all my symptoms every day. It might be a little milder or I might have a little more energy but pretty much I have all my symptoms every day. It’s constant,” said Powell.

That includes high heart rate and chest pain, making exercise difficult for the 22-year-old who once competed as an endurance athlete. 

Powell has found comfort by connecting with other COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ in online platforms. 

“I know there is a path to healing and I’ve seen it on these long COVID communities online where people do get better,” said Powell.

An informal survey conducted by Survivor Corps is providing hope for people like Powell. Of the 875 respondents, 361 said their symptoms improved post-vaccine, 388 said their symptoms remained the same and 126 said their symptoms worsened.

Powell received her second dose of the vaccine last week and at this point, hasn’t noticed any changes in her symptoms.

“All of this is very preliminary. It’s promising, for sure and it does give us potential insight into mechanisms that could be contributing to the symptoms in the first place and methods we may use to try to treat it,” said Dr. Bill Cornwell, cardiologist at University of Colorado Hospital.

Cornwell has treated long-haul patients at UCHealth’s Post-COVID clinic. He said there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the long COVID and who it affects.

“I would say there’s more that we don’t know than we do know at this point. We don’t know why some people get it. We don’t know why the symptoms are so heterogeneous or different between individuals,” said Cornwell.

He said although the information on the vaccine’s impact is only anecdotal at this point, it could help lead to a better understanding.

“A lot of good science that changes the industry begins that way. These are very promising observations but it is not definitive at this point,” said Cornwell.

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