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Your Healthy Family: COVID re-infections linked to risk of serious health issues

Posted at 7:38 AM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-14 07:38:55-04

A new study is linking COVID-19 re-infections to an increased likelihood of getting other serious health conditions like diabetes, lung or heart problems, and even neurologic issues.

The new pre-print study found getting COVID-19 two or more times could increase your risk of new, serious health problems, and even death.

Jessica Malaty Rivera — the Senior Advisor of the Pandemic Prevention Institute — said a new wave of Coronavirus variants are surfacing across our country.

"The CDC still is reporting on the new variants Omicron and the sub variants like BA.4 and BA.5,” she said.

The study looked at the records of more than 5 million patients in the Veterans Affairs Health System. It found that people with two or more documented COVID-19 infections had more than twice the risk of dying compared to people with just one COVID-19 infection. Researchers say re-infection also increased the likelihood of getting lung and heart problems, diabetes, digestive and kidney disorders, and neurologic problems.

The study found that the risk was the highest around the time of a COVID-19 infection, but persisted for six months and increased with each additional re-infection.

Right now, the U.S. is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, with the seven day average of new daily cases at 100,000 according to data from Johns Hopkins University. As the virus evolves, some health experts are calling for an update on what it means to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

"In the context of a pandemic that is still ongoing and a virus that is continuing to evolve and creating more challenges, including reinfection, we might need to reconsider this. 'Up to date' doesn't have the same kind of sense of completion,' Malaty Rivera said.

The CDC says anyone over the age of five should get one booster shot. Right now, the second booster is only recommended for people 50 and older, or who are immunocompromised and at least 12 years old.