A new study suggests that people who get reinfected with COVID-19 may have an increased risk of developing other health problems. In a pre-print study, a trio of researchers reviewed medical records from millions of people, including 250,000 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 one time and 38,000 who tested positive more than once. Of those who were reinfected with the virus, 36,000 people tested positive twice, 2,200 had it three times, and 246 had been infected four times. The remaining medical records included people who never had the virus and were used as the control group.
When comparing the data, the researchers found that those who were infected more than once had twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalized compared to those who contracted COVID-19 just once.
Those who were reinfected also reported having other health issues, including lung and heart problems, digestive issues, diabetes, and neurologic disorders. They found that the risk was highest immediately after getting reinfected but noted that it remained elevated for at least six months. The risk of developing other health issues increased with each reinfection.
“There is this idea that if you had Covid before, your immune system is trained to recognize it and is more equipped to fight it, and if you’re getting it again, maybe it doesn’t affect you that much, but that’s not really true,” lead study author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly told CNN.