There are no studies on the risk of sequelae in case of reinfection. However, experts explain to CNN Portugal what is at stake for patients with a second or third infection.
Currently, about 15% of new cases of covid-19 enrolled in Portugal are re-infected, that is, previously infected (whether vaccinated or not). And that percentage continues to grow.
Progressive loss of immunity and rapid transmutation of the virus are several factors that contribute to reinfection. Reinfection usually involves the emergence of a new variant, as immunity from one variant does not automatically fully protect another. It also happens with the flu every year. For SARS-CoV-2, the frequency of new variants is not yet known. However, it can be said that protection against infection is very high value for a few months and then begins to decline. A scenario further highlighted by the appearance of the Ómicron variant and its sublines.
In the face of viruses that appear to have perfected their ability to invade our immune system, it is important to ask: Does reinfection increase the risk of developing the sequelae of covid-19?
The answer is still clear and no consensus has been reached.
As a rule, people who have not been vaccinated (or have been incompletely vaccinated) or who have become more severe during the acute phase of the infection are at increased risk of developing long covids. But what if it’s a reinfection?
“Theoretically, every time you have a covid-19 infection, you can develop sequelae, even mild or asymptomatic, which means they can occur at the lung level,” said Internal Medicine. Dr. Carlos Paros, a specialist in medicine, explains. Director of Internal Medicine and Services at Beatrice Angelo Hospital. Therefore, “it can be presumed that increasing infections can increase cumulative effects,” he adds, but “no research yet” makes it possible to reach this conclusion. I emphasize that.
“It’s still in its infancy,” confirms Dr. Manuel Carmo Gomez, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Science. “It takes time to study the effects of long covids.” But “from the beginning,” the expert said, “because you already have some degree of immune protection,” that is, the body is already from infection. You would say that the risk is not great because you have the ability to protect yourself and prevent more complex effects.
What is Long Covid?
Fever, body aches, malaise, diarrhea-these are some of the symptoms that covid-19 can cause and spread beyond infection in many patients. In some cases it may last for 4 weeks, 6 weeks, or longer, or it may last for more than 3 months. This data must be a warning sign and is guaranteed to your doctor. Symptoms appear 90 days after infection indicate that what is known as Longcovid, a syndrome caused by the disease, may be at stake.
“Memory” of illness
“The risk of reinfection depends on our immunological past,” explains Carmo Gomes. “Each case is different.”
What happens when a virus attacks our body is that there is a front line of defense composed of antibodies. If these fail, after 3-4 days, a “second line response” consisting of “memory cells” will work. This prevents “virus debris” from previous infections. What these cells do is prevent “viral replication” in our body.
For this reason, the expert believes that not only will re-infected individuals be more sensitive to the virus, but conversely, “the risk of long covids should not increase.”
The importance of vaccines
The risk of sequelae depends on many variables, warns Miguel Toscano Rico, a physician who specializes in internal medicine. That is, for example, whether the person is vaccinated (and whether they have a complete vaccination schedule and booster immunity), when they were vaccinated, and what kind of vaccine they were vaccinated with. , And they depend on the strain that was first infected and in the next era.
“People who have been vaccinated are not at high risk of developing sequelae from reinfection,” Toscanorico argues. Having a previous vaccination schedule is a positive factor, especially if you have been vaccinated with different vaccines. Adding booster immunity to this “reduces the chance of getting infected.”
Vaccines were developed for the “wild-type” covid-19, and none were “proven to be particularly effective against Micron.” In any case, the vaccine does not prevent the infection or significantly prevent the disease, but it is important to reduce the severity of the disease.
At this time, Omicron is dominant and is responsible for the numerous reinfections registered in Portugal. Ómicrons mainly affect the “upper respiratory tract”, causing runny nose and sore throat, not respiratory symptoms. Therefore, consider Toscanorico from the beginning, where the risk of sequelae is low.
According to some studies, Ómicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in hospitalization risk for covid-19 when compared to the delta type.
In any case, it is necessary to emphasize Carmo Gomes and consider that even people with mild or asymptomatic illness can develop long covids. Therefore, it cannot be asserted that the risk of Omicron is low.
Pay attention to the most vulnerable and do not neglect vaccination
The major problem with this peak reinfection is, according to Toscanorico, “decompensation for chronic illness.”
“So far, we don’t have the severe illness we’ve seen so far. This is seen in the number of hospitalizations and deaths, but for the elderly and those with other comorbidities such as chronic respiratory illness. , Relatively expected to be heart disease. Illness and diabetes are more vulnerable and uncompensated. Therefore, as with normal influenza infections, reinfection of covid-19 “becomes a serious problem.” There is a possibility”.
All experts contacted by CNN Portugal claim that vaccination remains the best weapon to combat both the covid-19 infection and its possible consequences. “Booster shots are very important, especially for the most vulnerable people, but they’re not the only ones,” Toscanoriko claims. “Vaccination is the only way to fight a serious illness with covid-19.”
“We’re still learning at covid-19, but we already know this. Vaccination is important,” Carlos Paulos recalls.