5 Dangers of Getting Reinfected with COVID, According to Infectious Disease Specialist  — Eat This Not That

We’re nicely over two years into the pandemic and there isn’t any indicators it’s slowing down anytime quickly. Positive, masks mandates and restrictions have been lifted, however that does not imply the virus has been eradicated and we’re within the clear. If something, it is riskier now as a result of instances are rising and other people have a higher probability of getting reinfected, which might have critical well being repercussions. Eat This, Not That! Well being spoke with  Dr. J. Wes Ulm, Harvard and MIT-trained MD, PhD with a background in bioinformatics, gene remedy, genetics, drug discovery, consulting and training who explains why it is harmful to get COVID a number of instances and what it might imply long-term well being smart. Learn on—and to make sure your well being and the well being of others, do not miss these Positive Indicators You’ve got Already Had COVID.


When requested what the dangers of getting reinfected with COVID a number of instances are Dr. Ulm says, “An awesome query and a important subject that hasn’t gotten a lot protection within the in style well being press, however significantly related given the stunning adaptability of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — to mutate and generate new variants at a a lot sooner clip than medical doctors and researchers had beforehand anticipated. The reply, from the analysis and scientific case research performed to date, is that COVID an infection carries a “cumulative danger” element to it. That’s, the chance of lengthy COVID syndrome, and of organ and tissue injury extra broadly, seems to be elevated with every subsequent an infection, just because every bout with a variant of this coronavirus represents one other occasion of rolling the epidemiological cube for potential longer-term impacts.” 

Woman feeling headache and touching her head.

Dr. Ulm explains, “To raised illustrate, let’s assume that the chance of Lengthy COVID after an acute an infection is low, on the order of 10 %, although some research are in reality indicating the next danger issue (and for delicate infections in addition to rougher ordeals requiring hospitalization). When you get COVID as soon as, you may have a one-in-ten probability of following up with persistent Lengthy COVID signs corresponding to extreme fatigue, mind fog, disruption in style or scent, or extra extreme manifestations (together with deleterious results on the lungs, coronary heart, kidneys, or liver). When you undergo a second COVID bout, it is one other 10 % danger of getting lengthy COVID signs — unbiased of the primary bout — and so individuals with two successive infections shall be at 20 % danger. A 3rd bout? Hardly uncommon given the virulence and contagion of the newer omicron variants, and now the chance is 30 % of Lengthy COVID. And so forth.” 

Close-up of covid-19 infected patient in bed in hospital

Dr. Ulm states, “Serial COVID infections pose a cumulative danger of mounting organ and tissue injury that will increase with every infectious bout. I am going to get to the medical specifics on why that is within the subsequent couple questions, however suffice it to say that SARS-CoV-2 has confirmed itself to be a way more formidable microbial adversary than nearly anybody suspected within the spring of 2020. Actually, the potential for accumulating tissue damage has been one of many principal considerations of physicians and scientists as its exceptional capability for mutation and immune evasion started to be discerned with the delta variant within the spring of 2021.”

Portrait of doctor with face mask and clipboard looking at camera in hospital.

In line with Dr. Wes, “The cumulative danger issue has a number of necessary public well being implications going ahead. First, to place it bluntly, the epidemiological Holy Grail of herd immunity for COVID-19 is a pipe dream — it is merely not occurring. Herd immunity, by way of some mixture of pure immunity and vaccine-mediated safety, may need been realizable if reinfections have been uncommon, not extreme, or typically restricted. However one of many onerous classes of the omicron variants, from BA.1 in December of 2021 to BA.5 proper now in the summertime of 2022, is that SARS-CoV-2 is very stealthy and able to adapting and evading immune defenses.” 

Dr. Ulm tells us, “Beforehand contaminated people take pleasure in comparatively sparse and short-lived safety in opposition to having one other bout subsequently even inside the similar 12 months, and an enormous proportion of omicron BA.5 subvariant instances in July 2022 have been reinfections of those that’d battled the virus earlier than, together with different subvariants of omicron. There’s even some proof that successive bouts with COVID could decrease immune protections typically, by way of a nonetheless poorly-understood mechanism that hampers the responsiveness of blood lymphocytes that assist to marshal and coordinate the organic defenses. It isn’t fairly the identical factor as how HIV whittles down the “generals within the discipline” (the CD4 helper T-cells) that information practically all points of the adaptive immune response (particular for a specific disease-causing pathogen), however there have been some worrisome parallels noticed. A second implication is that periodic boosters and re-vaccinations shall be necessary, as we’re all aware of for our flu pictures, ideally with extra variant-specific vaccines as they grow to be accessible. A 3rd implication is that vigilance significantly for indoor gatherings will proceed to be vital for public well being, and infectious management measures like up to date air filtration, air flow, and ultraviolet disinfection ought to be applied the place potential. This is applicable typically, however maybe no extra so than in colleges, as kids are at particularly excessive danger of primarily contracting a daisy chain of back-to-back COVID infections. Moreover, although youngsters are little doubt at decrease danger of extreme acute COVID instances necessitating hospitalization, the newer variants are posing a higher menace to youth as nicely, and the prospects of lengthy COVID and organ injury in youngsters from such recurring infections stay poorly understood.” And to guard your life and the lives of others, do not go to any of those 35 Locations You are Most Prone to Catch COVID.

Wes Ulm, MD, PhD, is a physician-researcher, musician (J. Wes Ulm and Kant’s Konundrum) ,and novelist, and earned a twin MD/PhD diploma from Harvard Medical College and MIT. He’s a part of the Heroes of the COVID Disaster collection in relation to his ongoing efforts within the drug discovery and public well being area.

Heather Newgen

Heather Newgen has twenty years of expertise reporting and writing about well being, health, leisure and journey. Heather at present freelances for a number of publications. Learn extra

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