Are you worried that your next COVID-19 infection might be worse than the last? Yes, it is possible. Initial research from the Washington University School of Medicine and VA Saint Louis Healthcare System found that more reinfections can be associated with a higher risk of adverse health outcomes.
She added that fully vaccinated individuals do seem to be offered more protection from severe disease, but should avoid COVID infection or reinfection since a large population remains unvaccinated.
“Risks were lowest in people with 1 infection, increased in people with 2 infections, and highest in people with 3 or more infections,” said the study’s authors.
With more COVID-19 sub-variants emerging, the number of times one can get reinfected with the virus is endless. In fact, a fully vaccinated (including an initial booster shot) 31-year-old woman was reinfected just 20 days after her initial infection.
Her first infection was said to be from the Delta variant, while her reinfection was from the Omicron variant where she would then experience a lingering fever and cough.
“This case highlights the potential of the Omicron variant to evade the previous immunity acquired either from a natural infection with other variants or from vaccines,” said Dr. Gemma Recio, Institut Català de Salut, Tarragona, Spain.
What are some of the potential long-term impacts of COVID-19 reinfection?
Research found that for those reinfected, there was an increased risk of cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and mental health disorders. Much is still unknown about the causes of COVID-19 reinfection and its severity.
“We need to understand more about the risks of reinfection,” Dr. Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, told McClatchy News.
Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a clinical epidemiologist in the U.K. also took to Twitter to explain the risks of succumbing to multiple COVID-19 infections.
“We need to consider that people with diagnosed re-infection may be different in some other way to those with only 1 infection – so poor outcomes may be associated with them getting re-infected,” said Gurdasani. “Reinfections clearly can cause significant mortality and morbidity, and avoiding each infection seems to be important.”
In the UK, researchers are looking into a potential connection between blood clots and lingering effects of COVID-19. Their initial study found that less than one-third of individuals with persistent COVID-19 symptoms claim to be fully recovered one year later.
Moreover, long-COVID patients who continue to experience fatigue and shortness of breath may also suffer symptoms related to neurological disorders.
What causes COVID-19 reinfection?
As of this writing, there have been more than 1.6 million cases of COVID-19 reinfection across 24 states as per ABC news.
From the total number of cases reported, New York, Maine, and California lead the way with more than 200,000 reinfections. Meanwhile, Michigan and North Carolina have more than 100,000 reinfections.
So, what causes people to become reinfected with COVID-19?
- Vaccine immunity starts to wane
Like with any other vaccine, they tend to wane over time and they never claim to be 100% effective. With reinfection possible even for fully vaccinated individuals, people must stay up to date with their vaccinations. As evidence shows, only 31% have received a booster shot as of this writing.
- People have let their guard down
With restrictions easing in most states and even other countries, citizens have stopped wearing masks and practicing other safety protocols. If you want to avoid COVID infection or reinfection, remember to get tested and isolate yourself from others immediately. This will stop the spread of more sub-variants, especially among those still unvaccinated.
- People with COVID-19 reinfection have a different variant from their initial infection
Before the rise of Omicron, reports suggest that the likelihood of reinfection was 84% less than today. The main reason for this is that the Omicron sub variants are now known to evade natural and vaccine antibodies.
“Reinfections, even in those people who have been fully vaccinated, can be expected,” said Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the University of Nottingham, in a statement published by Science Media Centre. “As antibody levels wane with an emerging variant, your levels of antibody immunity are not sufficient enough to prevent infection.”
There are still a lot of unknowns about the health risks of COVID-19. Not only is there limited information regarding reinfection, but there are yet to be any treatment options regarding its long-term effects.
What citizens can do for now to avoid COVID infection or reinfection is to take all possible precautions to slow the spread of this deadly disease.
Everyone can contribute to limiting the virus’ spread by getting tested for COVID-19 if you experience any symptoms. This will ensure that if you do test positive for the virus, you can immediately isolate and stop the spread of the disease. To request a free COVID-19 testing kit, please click here.