Researchers in Germany have evaluated a huge data set of health insurance patients on corona infections. Their analysis reveals a connection about which little was previously known.

According to the findings of German researchers, people who have survived a Covid 19 infection have an autoimmune disease much more often than others. The basis is an extensive analysis of health insurance data. “Autoimmune diseases occurred significantly more frequently in all age and gender groups in the period after infection,” said Jochen Schmitt from the University Hospital Dresden.

According to the researchers, however, the results only relate to unvaccinated people who have had a proven corona infection with the wild type of the virus. There is currently no corresponding knowledge about other variants of the virus.

According to the analysis, there were 15.05 diagnoses of an autoimmune disease in people with corona infection per 1000 insured years, while in people without such an infection there were only 10.55 diagnoses. Patients with a more severe course of corona had a particularly high risk. Certain blood vessel inflammations showed the greatest associations with Covid-19. The results have not yet been published in a specialist journal.

Accounting data for the years 2019 to June 2021 from 38.9 million people with statutory health insurance from AOK Plus, Barmer, DAK-Gesundheit, IKK classic, Techniker Krankenkasse and company funds were evaluated. The analysis included data from 640,000 people with laboratory-proven Covid-19 disease in 2020, including 76,000 with pre-existing autoimmune diseases. Of the Covid patients who did not previously have an autoimmune disease, 6489 developed such a disease for the first time. Covid-infected and three non-infected people with similar characteristics were compared on the basis of 41 predefined diseases.

The study is part of a project funded by the Robert Koch Institute and the federal government on the long-term effects of Covid. So far, there have only been a few indications of autoimmune diseases caused by corona infections, the team writes. More research is needed to understand the connections between Covid-19 and these diseases, Schmitt said. “Future analyzes should focus on chronic diseases that arose during the pandemic.” Other researchers are currently discussing a connection between Covid-19 and a longer-lasting weakening of the immune system.