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COVID-19 reinfection carries higher risks of organ damage or even death regardless of vaccination status

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Contrary to the view that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has become milder since the pandemic began nearly three years ago, a new study is showing that every time a person gets reinfected, it increases the chance of serious health issues such as kidney disease, organ failure, mental health problems, or even death, regardless of their vaccination status.

The study, published in Nature Medicine on Nov 10, found that individuals who have experienced multiple Covid infections are at risk for health problems for as long as six months after their last infection. 

The bottom line is that Covid reinfections can pose a serious threat to people’s health and that everyone should continue to exercise care and avoid getting infected as much as possible—including doing what has worked so far, such as masking in indoor spaces, making sure their vaccinations are up-to-date, avoiding crowds or gatherings when they feel unwell, and so on.

Dr Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who headed the study involving almost 5.8 million people treated under the Veterans Affairs Health system in the US, said, “Reinfection with COVID-19 increases the risk of both acute outcomes and long COVID. This was evident in unvaccinated, vaccinated and boosted people.”

“Cumulatively, each infection could get you closer and closer to the edge. That’s why avoiding a second or third infection is important to try to continue preserving health,” he said.

Patients who have been reinfected face over double the risk of death and more than triple the risk of hospitalisation in comparison to those who have had only one bout with the virus.

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There are also higher risks for reinfected patients for problems with the lungs, heart, blood, kidneys, diabetes, mental health, bones and muscles, and neurological disorders.

Reuters quotes Dr Al-Aly as adding, “Even if one had prior infection and was vaccinated – meaning they had double immunity from prior infection plus vaccines – they are still susceptible to adverse outcomes upon reinfection.”

He warned that people should remain vigilant, not treating the virus as relatively harmless.

Dr Al-Aly told Reuters, “We had started seeing a lot of patients coming to the clinic with an air of invincibility. They wondered, ‘Does getting a reinfection really matter?’ The answer is yes, it absolutely does.”

And with the holidays coming up, he added that “people should be aware that reinfection is consequential and should take precautions.”

He also warned that getting reinfected increases the risk of getting Long Covid, even if people with previous infections appeared to fully recover. /TISG

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