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Staff reports | A growing body of research is leading experts to believe that vaccines against COVID-19 reduce the risk of infection progressing into the long-term medical condition known as long COVID. 

While findings are still preliminary, the studies tell relatively consistent stories, reports say. 

“It may not eradicate the symptoms of long COVID, but the protective effect seems to be very strong,” epidemiology professor Michael Edelstein, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, told National Public Radio. 

Edelstein’s study was one of many included in a recent analysis of vaccination’s effect on the risk of long COVID. His review found vaccinated people tend to have lower rates of long COVID after an infection than those who were unvaccinated. 

Other experts are still studying a new subvariant, omicron BA.2, which has quickly become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in many countries seeing outbreaks, including India, Denmark and South Africa. Some have called it a “stealth” variant, lacking particular genetic signatures distinguishing it from the delta variant of 2021. 

CDC data suggests that BA.2 cases are rising steadily, making up 23% of all cases in the U.S. as of early March. However, scientists are still debating whether BA.2 will cause another surge in the U.S.

Latest COVID-19 data

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) transitioned to weekly reporting of new COVID data this week, with Tuesday’s update being the most recent of reports including data taken from March 13-19.

South Carolina health officials on Tuesday reported 1,014 total new cases of COVID-19, with 667 confirmed, and 116 total new deaths, 60 of which were confirmed. As of March 22, 187 COVID-19-positive individuals are hospitalized, and 16 COVID-19-positive individuals are ventilated.

No positivity rate was reported by DHEC.

  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 66.8%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 57.7%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 19.8%
  • Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 16%

For more information, visit the S.C. SCDHEC COVID-19 dashboard.