There are also studies showing that long COVID affects women more than men.
Paradoxically, the immune system in women is “often better”, which probably means a higher risk of long COVID “because the immune system’s reactivity is continuing after the infection has resolved”, said Young.
But why do some people have such bad symptoms while others feel fine? And why do some people with mild initial symptoms also end up getting long COVID?
“We don’t really know what the exact trigger is,” he replied. “Something going wonky with the immune system is the most likely explanation.”
What the data show, however, is that the elderly aged above 70 — a high-risk group for severe COVID-19 compared to younger patients — will also have more long COVID symptoms, pointed out Steve Yang, a consultant in The Respiratory Practice.
“If you’ve been in the ICU, if you’ve been on the ventilator … with a lot of scarring in your lungs, you’ll have a lot of long COVID symptoms,” he continued.
People can develop long COVID even if they are vaccinated. But vaccination helps: The evidence points to “around a 50 per cent reduction in the rates of long COVID”, noted Young.
According to the NCID, in findings published last year, one in 10 unvaccinated adult patients in Singapore had persistent symptoms six months after their initial infection.
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