skip to Main Content
a man gets a vaccine shot

Some COVID long-haulers have seen their symptoms ease or even vanish after receiving one of the mRNA vaccines (currently, those from Pfizer and Moderna). This has raised questions regarding the mechanisms at play.

“Most long-haulers aren’t affected by vaccination, but maybe 10 percent get unexpectedly better — like someone turned on the lights,” says functional-medicine internist Leo Galland, MD.

There are several theories about what might be occurring, including that the vaccines may somehow “reset” a glitchy immune system or provoke a psychosomatic response. The more likely explanation, however, is that some long-haulers battle a persistent infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, says Galland, and the vaccine boosts their immune response.

“The theory has been circulating for decades that autoimmune disease is caused by a lingering infection,” he explains. There is evidence that COVID viral proteins may persist in the gut and in immune cells in the blood, even after the virus has become undetectable in nasal swabs.

There is precedence for this theory. Studies, clinical trials, and patient surveys have shown that antibiotic treatment can resolve the symptoms of some rheumatoid-arthritis patients.

“There are definitely people who have what appears to be autoimmune disease, in whom the trigger is still present and active in the body,” he notes. “If you can treat the trigger, the autoimmune disease goes away.”

The uneven effects of vaccination on long-haulers point to a frustrating truth: The condition, its manifestations, and its underlying causes seem to vary greatly from person to person. “We have many more questions than answers at this point about how the vaccine might be helping,” says osteopath Leonard Calabrese, DO, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s R. J. Fasenmyer Center for Clinical Immunology.

(For more on autoimmune issues, see “Autoimmunity Now”.)

Mo
Mo Perry

Mo Perry is a freelance writer and actor in Minneapolis.

Thoughts to share?

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

City and state are only displayed in our print magazine if your comment is chosen for publication.

ADVERTISEMENT

More Like This

a variety of supplements and green leaves
By Mo Perry
Many people who have had COVID-19 still experience chronic issues. We talked to several functional-medicine doctors, and here's what they recommend.
A Black woman holds a sign outside a store that says OPEN.
By Quinton Skinner
As life continues to evolve in the wake of the pandemic, experts offer advice on how to remain adaptable.
a woman pulls a face mask away and smells flowers
By Craig Cox
Many people who've recovered from COVID-19 lose their sense of smell or suffer from a condition called parosmia, which is a distorted sense of smell. Smell training would help.
Back To Top