Despite vaccination or recovery, many people are going through another corona infection. Studies indicate that the risk of consequential damage and long-Covid increases significantly with each infection.
The number of infections in Germany continues to rise. The nationwide 7-day incidence is already 700 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – over 1.6 million people are currently infected in Germany. The cause is the omicron subline BA.5, which according to the Robert Koch Institute is now responsible for 77 percent of all cases.
Since BA.5 circumvents immune protection even better than the BA.2 variant that was circulating here before it, those who have recovered and those who have been vaccinated are also infected. Because neither protects against infection – even if the vaccination in particular significantly reduces at least one severe Covid 19 disease and the risk of dying from it. Reinfections and breakthrough infections are the order of the day, so that some people have already had a corona infection several times.
Many virologists and also immunologists assume that the combination of vaccination and several infections could lead us out of the pandemic in the longer term. Because only through multiple contact with the virus can the body build up lasting immunity. In other words, the more frequently someone gets infected, the longer and more stable the immune protection that builds up as a result could be.
But this could have serious health consequences for those who are reinfected. Because with every infection that has gone through, the risk of suffering consequential corona damage and long-Covid could increase. In any case, an as yet unchecked preprint study by the research team Ziyad Al-Aly from the University of Washington points in this direction.
To do this, the scientists evaluated the health insurance data of 257,427 formerly infected veterans of the US Army. 36,417 of them had been shown to have had two, 2,263 three and 246 even four or more Covid 19 infections. The researchers then compared the number of secondary diseases after the infections and compared them with the health data of a control group of 4.5 million people who had not experienced a corona infection.
Al-Aly and his team found that people who had become reinfected compared to those who had been infected for the first time during the acute phase and also in the period of six months after diagnosis
Diseases such as diabetes, fatigue, gastrointestinal and kidney diseases as well as psychological problems also occurred more frequently after reinfection.
The authors explain in their study that this higher risk referred to unvaccinated people as well as those who had been vaccinated once, twice or three times. Ziyad Al-Aly and his colleagues also came to the conclusion that the named risks increased from infection to infection. This means that the risk was even higher in people with three or more infections.
Epidemiologist David Steadson, who lives and works in Sweden, is also currently working on a scientific paper on the effects of reinfection. On Twitter he posted a draft chart showing how long it takes for someone to develop Long-Covid after multiple infections based on various studies.
“With current estimates of the risk of Long-Covid at around 20 percent for each infection and guidelines leading to an expected 2-3 infections per year, the vast majority of people can expect to contract some form of Long-Covid within the next few years 2-3 years to suffer,” he writes on Twitter.
In any case, Steadson is convinced that multiple infections increase the risk of consequential damage: “Based on the current state of knowledge, we know that the more often someone becomes infected, the greater their risk of contracting long-Covid.” This finding is obvious, but is ignored by the majority of people and politicians, Steadson criticizes.
In fact, many people who have had a corona infection still suffer from a wide variety of symptoms months after the infection. Some of the most common long-Covid complaints include
But heart problems, kidney and metabolic disorders can also occur as a result of an infection – the list of possible symptoms is long: In various studies, those affected have given up to 200 different symptoms for Long-Covid.
It doesn’t matter whether the person affected has had a severe or mild infection – even asymptomatic infected people can develop Long-Covid. Nevertheless, according to the Post-Hospitalisation-Covid-19 study from England, people who have been treated with Corona in the hospital have even worse cards when it comes to Long-Covid.
It shows that over 70 percent of all hospitalized Covid 19 cases are still not healthy a year later. For long-lasting long-Covid, the study identified the following risk factors:
It is difficult to determine how many people in Germany are affected by Long-Covid. It is estimated that around ten percent of all infections lead to long-Covid.