COVID-19 reinfection poses a greater threat than the first infection, according to a new study.
Researchers found that the risks of death, hospitalization and serious health issues are greater when one is reinfected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“Reinfection with COVID-19 increases the risk of both acute outcomes and long COVID,” Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said, as per VOA.
In his new study with his colleagues, Al-Aly pursued to find out whether reinfection adds to risks incurred after the first infection. They found that while the risks were most pronounced in the acute phase, they persisted in the post-acute phase.
Based on the number of infections, cumulative risks and burdens of repeat infection increased, suggesting that the risks of death, hospitalization and serious health problems were greater in reinfections.
Al-Aly noted that the risks were evident in “unvaccinated, vaccinated, and boosted people.” Thus, regardless of vaccination, everyone is at greater risk when reinfected.
For the study, the lead researcher, Al-Aly, and his colleagues examined U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data from March 1, 2020, through April 6, 2022.
Data from 443,588 patients with one COVID-19-reported infection and 40,947 patients with two or more reinfections were collected. Data from 5.3 million uninfected individuals were also used for the study.
“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,” Al-Aly explained.
Due to their findings published in Nature Medicine, the team urged the medical community to come up with strategies for reinfection prevention to reduce the overall burden of death and severe disease due to the virus.
Ahead of the holiday season, when many people would be traveling and attending indoor gatherings, Al-Aly said everyone should be aware of the serious repercussions of reinfections to avoid repeated transmissions.
The precautionary measures are still the same as when the pandemic started. Al-Aly just wanted to remind everyone that it’s best to mask up when traveling and staying indoors with other people.