Severe disease from Covid reinfections very rare, study suggests

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A new study suggests that re-infection of COVID-19 is 90 percent less likely to lead to hospitalization or death than a primary infection.

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Qatari scientists found that it is rare for people to be reinfected with the virus. And when a person catches COVID a second time, the disease is usually mild in nature, the researchers said.

A total of 1,304 re-infections were identified from 353,326 people who tested positive in Qatar between February 2020 and April 2021. The analysis excluded 87,547 people who were vaccinated.


Only four re-infections were severe enough to require acute care hospitalization. None required admission to the ICU, and there was no end to death. Of the primary infections, 28 people were admitted to the ICU, while seven died.

study published in, New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that re-infections were not only milder than initial infections, but were also much less likely to lead to hospitalization or death.

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Re-infection was defined as the first positive swab received at least 90 days after initially diagnosed with COVID-19.

Most of the reinfections were caused by the beta version, which is more effective than other mutations at evading the body’s immune response.

The researchers also found that the average time between the first and second infection was about nine months.

The first wave of infections in Qatar occurred between March and June of 2020, after which 40 percent of the population had detectable antibodies against COVID-19.

The country then experienced back-to-back waves from January to May 2021, driven by Alpha and Beta variants.

Based on their results, the scientists suggested that COVID “may adopt a more benign pattern of infection when it becomes endemic”.

However, he cautioned, “it needs to be determined whether … protection from severe disease upon re-infection lasts longer, in line with immunity that develops against other seasonal ‘common-cold’ coronaviruses, which are milder.” elicits short-term immunity against reinfection. But long-term immunity against more severe disease with reinfection”.

David Matthews, a professor of virology at the University of Bristol who was not involved in the study, said the findings suggest that Covid “eventually will become like the common cold” as more people are vaccinated and exposed to the virus before recovering. Huh. ,

“Your immune system can rely on recent memory of past victories to beat the virus when you see it again.

“You can’t be sure, but what will probably happen is that this virus will become a common cold virus, like the human coronaviruses that are already common.

“The findings also emphasize that the pressure on us right now in terms of hospitalization is mainly coming from people who, for whatever reason, are still not vaccinated.”

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the paper supports already existing evidence indicating that “re-infections are generally no less severe than initial infections”.

However, he suggested that it was difficult to fully determine the severity of reinfection. “It’s often difficult to measure it precisely,” he said. “If you’re basing your assessment on people coming into the hospital, people usually go to the hospital when they’re sick.

“Re-infection may seem to be of similar severity but that is because people with less severe disease” [who have been reinfected] Don’t go to the hospital.”

Prof Hunter also noted that “natural infections give more durable immunity than vaccines, and perhaps better cross protection against new forms, but this depends on how severe the initial infection is”.


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