Study probes vaccines’ effects on people with ‘Long COVID’
A team of Yale School of Medicine researchers is launching a study to determine the effect of vaccination on people with persistent symptoms months after SARS-CoV-2 infection, which has been termed “Long COVID.”
The study is led by Yale faculty members Akiko Iwasaki, Aaron Ring, Wade Schulz, Charles Dela Cruz, Erica Spatz, and Harlan Krumholz.
The idea for the study came from Survivor Corps, a grassroots COVID patient group. In a poll they posted to their patient community about the effects of vaccination on Long COVID, they found that about 40% of people reported mild to full resolution of their symptoms after they were vaccinated.
For the study, the researchers are eager to incorporate the views of the patient community. In addition to working closely with Survivor Corps, the Yale team also worked with the Patient-Led Research Collaborative, a team of researchers with Long COVID who are experts in developing participatory research methodologies and patient-scientist collaborations. The Patient-Led Research Collaborative helped refine surveys for the study and advised the Yale team on including a patient-driven process into the survey design.
“I have wanted to understand what is driving Long COVID disease for a while,” said Iwasaki, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale, who will serve as the project lead. “After seeing the survey done by Survivor Corps showing that 40% of long haulers experience improvement in their symptoms after the vaccines, I got so excited.
“Understanding the immune responses before and after vaccines holds key to learning about Long COVID disease and provides an opportunity to design rational therapeutic approaches,” said Iwasaki, who is also a principal investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Survivor Corps is dedicated to bringing patient voices to the forefront of scientific research, said Diana Berrent, the group’s founder.
“This partnership reflects a new vision of Citizen Science where citizens and scientists work in collaboration to honor the needs of patients and accelerate the pace of scientific discovery,” she said.
The study will involve cutting-edge immune profiling techniques pioneered by Ring, an assistant professor of immunobiology, and the data science platforms developed by Schulz, an assistant professor and director of informatics in the Department of Laboratory Medicine. The Yale New Haven Health Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation is leading the efforts to work with participants to characterize their symptoms and response to vaccination.
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