Covid-19 reinfection is more risky than first infection: study

The risk of death, hospitalization and serious health problems from Covid-19 is significantly increased with reinfection compared with a first attack of the virus, regardless of vaccination status, according to a study published Thursday.

“The reinfection with Covid-19 it increases the risk of both acute outcomes and prolonged Covid,” said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“This was evident in unvaccinated, vaccinated and with reinforcement“, he added.

The findings were drawn from data from the Department of Veterans Affairs of USA collected from March 1, 2020 to April 6, 2022 on 443,588 patients with an infection by SARS-CoV-2, 40,947 with two or more infections and 5.3 million uninfected people. Most of the study subjects were men.

The reinfected patients had a Death risk of more than double and a risk of hospitalization of more than triple compared to those who were infected with Covid only once. They also had high risks of problems with the lungs, heart, blood, kidneys, diabetesmental health, bone and muscle, and neurological disorders, according to a report published in Natural Medicine.

“Even if one had a infection previously and was vaccinated, which means that he had double immunity from the previous infection plus the vaccines, he is still susceptible to adverse outcomes after reinfection,” said Al-Aly, leader of the study.

People with repeated infections were three times more likely to develop lung problemsthree times more likely to suffer from heart conditions and 60% more likely to experience Neurological disorders than patients who had been infected only once, the study found. The higher risks were more pronounced in the first month after reinfection, but were still evident six months later.

The cumulative risks and burdens of repeat infection increased with the number of infections, even after accounting for differences in Covid-19 variants such as Delta, omicron and BA.5, the researchers said.

“We started seeing a lot of patients coming to the clinic with an air of invincibility,” Al-Aly told Reuters. “They asked themselves: ‘Does it really matter to have a reinfection?’ The answer is yes, it absolutely does.” Before the fast approaching holiday season with trips and indoor gatherings, “people need to be aware that reinfection is consequential and take precautions,” he added. (rts)