For some COVID-19 long-haulers, the vaccine has helped
People of all ages continue to suffer from “Long COVID.”
As of now, there’s no official treatment, but one man found something that helps.
Dr. Sanjeev Maniar has wanted to help people all of his life.
“I was born and brought up in India. And I saw so many family members, they had a health issue and medical capabilities were very, very poor in India. So I decided to become a doctor,” said Maniar, a neurologist with the Florida Neurology Group.
When the pandemic began, Manair began working.
Until COVID-19 hit him too.
“I lost almost 13 pounds of weight, so I became so weak,” Maniar said.
After a few weeks, the doctor went back to work but he had to take time off again.
“I could not think, I was so fatigued,” Maniar said.
Maniar became a COVID long-hauler.
“What we know so far is that up to six months, we have found out in studies that patients are still having some symptoms,” said Dr. Kartik Sehgal, medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Maniar tried vitamins, physical therapy and light exercise.
“I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine. And I saw light at the end of the tunnel,” Maniar said. “My brain fog was better, fatigue was better.”
But experts say the benefit isn’t universal.
“The largest study that’s actually been published in a preprint was only 44 individuals, who had in fact had long COVID, got vaccinated, and there was overall a tendency towards improvement. Something like 23% of them said they were better after a month, whereas those who didn’t get the vaccine was 15%,” said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
Why the vaccine reduces long COVID symptoms in some patients is unknown but there are theories.
“The virus may be hiding behind at low levels and may be lingering in organs and the vaccine can hopefully activate the immune system and take care of that virus and get rid of that,” Sehgal said.
The second dose flipped the switch for Maniar.
“Within a few days, I was almost back to normal. Not 100%, but 95%, where I can work all day at the hospital without getting fatigued,” Maniar said.
Another theory the vaccine helps with long COVID is that it acts as a reset button for patients’ over-active immune systems.