Each repeated infection with Covid-19 increases your risk of organ failure, hospitalisation and death, an alarming new study has warned. Researchers found that people re-infected with the virus were three times more likely to be hospitalised and twice as likely to die than those only infected once.
And those infected more than once were three-and-a-half times more likely to end up with lung problems, three times more likely to develop a heart condition and one-and-a-half times more likely to suffer brain problems than those experiencing but one infection.
In their study, epidemiologist Professor Ziyad Al-Ali of Washington University in Missouri and his colleagues analysed anonymised health information on 5.8 million people as recorded in a Department of Veterans Affairs database.
This cohort included 5.3 million people who did not test positive for the virus between March 1, 2020 and April 6, 2022.
The rest were made up of 443,000 people who only tested positive once and 41,000 people who were infected two or more times.
Of those people who suffered multiple infections, most had two or three cases, and a small number had four. No-one reported experiencing five or more infections.
The team used modelling to determine the health risks that resulted from repeated coronavirus infections.
They considered both the 30-day period immediately following infection, as well as the six months after.
The researchers noted that the infections were caused by a number of different variants, including both Delta and Omicron.
Negative health outcomes were seen among both unvaccinated as well as those who were jabbed and went on to suffer another infection.
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Prof. Al-Ali continued: “People should do their best to prevent repeat infections by masking, for example, getting all of their eligible boosters, staying home when sick. Also — get a flu shot to prevent illness.
“We really need to do our best to reduce the chance we will have a twin-demic of both COVID-19 and the flu this winter season.
“Our findings have broad public health implications as they tell us that strategies to prevent or reduce the risk of reinfection should be implemented.
“Going into the winter season, people should be aware of the risks and practice vigilance to reduce their risk of infection or reinfection with SARS-CoV-2.”
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine.