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Multiple Covid-19 infections can lead to both short-term and long-term health effects including vital organs failure



When the COVID-19 pandemic hit nearly three years ago, the American health system was not prepared for the virus and the influx of patients in hospitals nationwide, mostly because the virus was new and there were no established procedures for treating the disease. Since then, the situation with the virus has improved, mostly due to the high vaccination rate and people who developed immunity after recovering from the virus.

So far, nearly 81% of the American population has received at least one dose of the vaccines, while more than 68% have completed the primary vaccine series. This is why, unlike previous years, health experts believe the country will not face another wave this winter.

Omicron was the first variant of the virus that was able to re-infect people regardless of their vaccination status or previous recovery. The highly infectious variant and its subvariants are known to easily evade immunity, but when a person gets infected with this strain, they will most likely develop only mild symptoms and won’t need medical help. A year after Omicron was first discovered by scientists, we now think of COVID-19 as something closer to the flu than a dangerous disease.

A recent study found that getting infected with COVID-19 multiple times puts a person at risk. According to the study published in Nature Medicine, people who have been re-infected with the virus at least once are exposed to both short-term and long-term health complications, and vital organ systems might be impacted and even fail. The study finds that the higher the number of re-infections, the higher the risk.

The same study also revealed that people who have been infected with the virus several times are more likely to develop COVID than those who were infected with the virus only once. People who had been infected with COVID-19 more than once were three times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die than those who had only had the virus once.

As our content partner MDMH – Pine Bluff reported few weeks ago, Long COVID is defined as “experiencing symptoms for three months or more after infection.” In America, more than 17% of women have had long Covid at some point during the pandemic, compared with 11% of men. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics data showed that only 1.3% of men had developed severe long COVID that significantly limited their normal activities, compared to 2.4% of women. Poor memory or brain fog, fatigue, shortness of breath, and loss of smell are the most common long COVID symptoms.

The study was completed by a group of epidemiologists and researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. According to Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, who is a clinical epidemiologist and the study’s senior author, the researchers analyzed 5.3 million health records from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs involving people who did not test positive for SARS-CoV-2 from March 2020 to April 2022, and compared their health status to 443,000 people who tested positive once during that period—then to another 41,000 who tested positive two or more times. They studied adverse outcomes, like hospitalizations and deaths, in the health records for these groups for six months.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly further explained that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are equally exposed to the risk of future health complications caused by multiple COVID infections. The immune system adapts after every infection to better deal with future infections, but in the case of COVID, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences for our well-being.

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

Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly advises everyone to be very careful during the holiday season as we spend more time indoors with our families. Al-Aly highly encourages wearing a face mask in crowded areas like airports to prevent getting infected with COVID, which might result in future health issues.

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