Covid re-infection: increase the risk of death and future health problems. And every contagion is worse

from Silvia Turin

Taking Covid (still) hurts: twice as likely to die and 3 times more likely to end up in hospital in the following 6 months. Study on a group of US veterans. The vaccine also protects against reinfection

The repeated infections from SARS-CoV-2 viruses can increase the risk of serious health problems (organ failure) and of death; in addition, each additional infection increases this risk. According to a US study conducted by the Department of Medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine of St. Louis, recently Published on nature medicine

A large body of research had previously shown that the first SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with an increased risk of death and sequelae to lung and other organ damage. However, many people around the world are experiencing repeated SARS-CoV-2 infections (reinfections). The objective of the analysis of the team of scientists was to examine the health risks deriving from repeated Covid infectionseither within the first 30 days of contracting the virus, or up to six months after the infection. Adverse outcomes, as they were called in the research, included: all-cause mortality, hospitalization, having at least one sequelae (late effect), and organ system disorders (cardiovascular, coagulation, and hematologic disorders, diabetes, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney, mental health, musculoskeletal, neurological, and pulmonary).

For the analysis, the scientists used the Department of Children’s Affairs health database United States Veterans (the largest integrated health care system): 5.8 million anonymous medical records.
5,334,729 participants were without any record of SARS-CoV-2 infection and were part of the control group. 443,588 participants had only one recorded Covid infection, therefore no reinfection, and 40,947 participants had had reinfections: 37,997 (92.8%) 2 two Covid infections, 2,572 (6.3%) 3 infections and 378 (0.9% ) four or more infections.

The study showed that people with multiple reinfections from Covid they have twice as likely to die and 3 times more likely to be hospitalized in hospital compared to those without reinfections (see Image 1 above). Not only that: compared to patients infected with the virus only once, individuals with repeated infections are 3 and a half times more likely to develop respiratory system diseases, 3 times more likely to get heart disease and 1.6 times more likely to experience brain pathologies.

Subgroup analyzes by vaccination status prior to reinfection (no vaccination, one vaccination, or two or more vaccinations) showed that the reinfection (versus no reinfection) still associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality, hospitalization, and at least one sequela regardless of vaccination status (see Image 2 below)
. The apparent lack of correlation with vaccination is surprising – comments al Health Courier Mario Clerici, immunologist at the State University of Milan -. The question to ask which vaccine they made and which variants they came into contact with, presumably different over time, and this could change the relationship between risk and vaccination.

With respect to the time duration of the risk, the researchers examined whether this increased only in the acute and post-acute phases of reinfection or even later (up to six months): the risk gradually diminished over time, but remained quite evident even at 6 months from reinfection (see Image 3 below).

Weak point of the study, which remains equally valid and very indicative, is the population of Veterans affairs, composed mostly of elderly and males (but with a percentage of 10.3% women and 12% of subjects under 38.8 years old): the compromised health as a consequence of the first infection could have led to an increase in risk of health problems after reinfection. The cohort is burdened by a high prevalence of comorbidities (veteran cohorts usually include people with more than one chronic disease, as confirmed by the study) – says Clerici -. Moreover, it is generally not surprising that multiple episodes of infection increase the danger and severity of the disease: the cumulative effect can become deleterious, because each infection weakens us a little, especially if we are old and sick: the damage accumulates. Surely, without vaccinations, multiple reinfections would have killed many, many more people.

Prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection and re-infection should continue to be the focus of public health policy, study coordinator Ziyad Al-Aly said in closing comments. That’s why it remains important continue to protect yourself (and to protect others) with masks and other measures when one feels at risk (a personal choice of responsibility, given that the obligations have ceased) and it would be appropriate to continue to do the vaccination recalls, because vaccines also limit transmission and protect against reinfection.

the conclusion also reached by a Danish study just published in the magazine Plos Medicines
conducted by a team from the Statens Serum Institut: among people with previous Covid infections, vaccination offered up to 94% protection against reinfection during the Delta period and 60% during the Omicron period, with a shield effect which lasted up to 9 months. The results indicate that vaccination conferred additional protection to that of immunity given by the infection during all three waves fueled by the Alfa, Delta and Omicron variants, as highlighted by the Danish scientists.

November 24, 2022 (change November 24, 2022 | 10:05 am)

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Covid re-infection: increase the risk of death and future health problems. And every contagion is worse

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