Re-infection with coronavirus is riskier than initial infection, new study finds

The risks of death, hospitalization and serious health problems as a result of falling ill with Covid-19 increase sharply in the event of reinfection compared to the initial infection, whether the person concerned is vaccinated or not, shows a new study released Thursday.

“Coronavirus reinfection increases both the risk of acute effects and the risk of long-term Covid,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “This risk has been demonstrated in unvaccinated people, in those vaccinated and in those who received booster doses,” he added, according to Reuters, quoted by Agerpres.

The conclusions of the study were formulated on the basis of data collected by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs from March 1, 2020 to April 6, 2022 corresponding to a number of 443,588 patients with a single SARS-CoV-2 infection, 40,947 with two or more infections and 5.3 million uninfected. Most of the study subjects were men.

Reinfected patients had a more than twice the risk of death and a three times higher risk of hospitalization than patients infected only once with SARS-CoV-2. At the same time, they were at increased risk for lung, heart, blood, kidney problems, diabetes, mental health, bones and muscles, as well as neurological disorders, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“Even if a person had an initial infection and then was vaccinated – meaning dual immunity from previous infection and vaccination – they are still susceptible to adverse effects with re-infection,” said the head of the study, Ziyad Al-Aly. .

Patients who suffered repeated infections were three times more likely to develop lung problems, three times more likely to suffer from heart disease and 60% more likely to experience neurological problems compared to patients infected only once. the conclusion reached by the authors of the study. . The highest risks were recorded during the first month after reinfection, but were still evident six months after reinfection.

The risks and cumulative burden of repeat infections increased with the number of infections, even after taking into account the differences related to the different variants – Delta, Omicron and BA.5, the researchers also said.

“We started seeing many patients coming to the clinic looking invincible,” Ziyad Al-Aly told Reuters. “They’re like, ‘Does reinfection really matter?’ The answer is: yes, of course it is important”.

Ahead of the approaching holiday season, which involves travel and indoor gatherings, “people should be aware that reinfection is one of the consequences and should take precautions,” he added.

“We don’t recommend drastic measures, but maybe if you’re traveling by plane you should wear a sanitary mask,” Al-Aly said. “If you’re in a supermarket, think the person next to you might have a weakened immune system and if you’re wearing a sanitary mask, you might help protect them.”

Editor: Adrian Dumitru

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