A recent study states that Covid-19 reinfections could pose additional risks to people’s long-term health – as compared to only getting Covid once – however, some infectious disease experts in the US disagree that there is evidence showing repeat infections are more dangerous, reports the Guardian.
The issue of the impact of repeated infections is becoming a crucial one in the United States as the Covid-19 pandemic is now tailing off amid a widespread relaxation of any social distancing or restrictions, which has seen many people catch the virus two or more times.
A second or more Covid infection increases a person’s risk of death, hospitalization, and various adverse health outcomes, including diabetes and neurological disorders, according to the study published in the Nature Medicine journal that looked at the healthcare database from the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Reinfection is consequential in the sense that if you get Covid again, even if you have had it before and even if you have been vaccinated, that still could put you in the hospital, that still in some cases, can result in death,” said Dr Ziyad Al-Aly, an author of the study who works as a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University and as chief of research at the Veteran Affairs St Louis Healthcare system.
But Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious disease epidemiologist and editor-at-large at Kaiser Health News, is among those who said that immunity from a first infection means that a subsequent infection poses a lower risk of such outcomes.
“There is nothing about a reinfection that is more dangerous than an original infection, and if anything, a reinfection is going to be lower risk because you have some immunity baseline at the time of reinfection,” said Gounder.
Debate over the risks of reinfections
The debate over the risks of reinfections – which experts say are likely to continue – could determine what precautions people take against Covid and whether people worry unnecessarily at a time when the pandemic has already taken a toll on mental health.
The VA researchers decided to conduct the study because patients who had already been infected were coming to local clinics with this “air of invincibility about them”, Al-Aly said. “Some media actually started referring to these patients as ‘super immune’. ”
To determine if that was valid, the researchers compared health outcomes among more than 440,000 participants with no Covid reinfection with about 40,000 participants who had at least one reinfection. They found that the reinfection posed increased risk of mortality and adverse health outcomes during the acute phase and six months after infection.
As such, when people consider whether it’s worth taking precautions to protect themselves from reinfections, “the answer to that is a yes”, Al-Aly said.
Did you subscribe to our Newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!
Source: The Guardian