The more re-infections of Covid-19 in the same person, the higher the risk
Repeated coronavirus infections in the same person significantly increase the risk of developing problems in various organs of the body, hospitalization or death, a new American scientific study shows.
The more times the same person has had Covid-19, the higher the risk for their lungs, heart, brain, blood, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal system, kidneys, as well as for diabetes and mental disorders.
The researchers, led by clinical epidemiologist Ziad Al-Ali of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who published in the medical journal Nature Medicine, analyzed medical records for about 5.8 million people, of whom 443,000 had one Covid-19 infection and another 41,000 had two or more Covid-19 infections between March 2020 – April 2022 (most had two or three reinfections, a few had four, none had five).
The study took into account all known variants, such as Delta, Omicron and its sub-variants. It found that in general, people with re-infections with the coronavirus are twice as likely to die and three times more likely to require hospitalisation, compared to those who have never been re-infected.
In addition, people with re-infections are 3.5 times more likely to develop lung problems, three times more likely to have heart problems and one and a half times more likely to have brain problems, compared to those who got sick once with Covid-19.
“Our findings have broad public health implications, as they indicate that strategies should be implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of re-infection. As the winter season approaches, people should be aware of the risks and take care to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection or re-infection,” said Dr Al-Ali.
“Over the past few months there has been an air of invincibility among people who have had Covid-19 or been vaccinated and boosted, especially among those who have contracted the coronavirus and also had vaccinations. Some have begun to refer to these individuals as having a kind of hypersensitivity to the virus. But our research shows beyond any doubt that reinfection for a second, third or fourth time contributes to additional health risks both during the acute phase, i.e. the first 30 days after infection, and during the following months, i.e. in the long Covid-19 phase. The risk increases with each new infection. In other words, if you’ve had two Covid-19 infections, it’s better to avoid a third, and if you’ve had three, it’s better to avoid a fourth,” he stressed.
As winter approaches and new strains of the coronavirus have not stopped emerging due to its constant mutations, an increase in cases is expected again. That’s why, Al-Ali added, “people should do everything they can to prevent repeated infections by wearing a mask, getting booster shots and staying home when they’re sick. It is also good that they get vaccinated against the flu, as it is necessary to reduce the possibility of a double epidemic of Covid-19 and flu this winter,” he added.
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