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covid 19: Scientists reveal why even vaccinated people are prone to Covid-19 reinfections

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For New York singer-songwriter Erica Mancini, COVID-19 has performed multiple times.

March 2020. Last December. And again this May.

“I am upset to learn that I could become permanently infected,” said the 31-year-old singer, who was vaccinated and given a booster. “I don’t want to get sick every month or every two months.”

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But medical experts warn that reinfections are becoming more likely as the pandemic drags on and the virus evolves, with some people bound to be hit more than twice. New research suggests that this may put them at higher risk for health problems.

There is no complete data on people who have been infected with COVID-19 more than twice, although some states collect information on reinfections in general. New York, for example, reports 277,000 reinfections out of 5.8 million infections during the pandemic. Experts say the actual numbers are much higher because many home tests for COVID-19 go unreported.

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Recently, several public figures have been re-infected. US Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they had contracted COVID-19 for the second time, while US Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi said he tested positive for the third time. All reported being fully vaccinated, while Trudeau and Becerra said they were boosted.

“Until recently, it was almost unheard of, but it’s now becoming more common” to have COVID-19 two, three, or even four times, said Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Broadcasting Research Institute. “If we don’t come up with a better defense, we’ll see a lot more of that.”

Why? Experts say immunity from past infections and vaccinations weakens over time, leaving people vulnerable.

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In addition, the virus has become more contagious. Studies from the United Kingdom show that the risk of re-infection was about seven times higher with omicron variants compared to when delta was most prevalent. Scientists believe that omicron mutants, which currently cause the vast majority of U.S. cases, are particularly good at bypassing immunity from vaccination or past infection, especially infections during the initial wave of omicrons. US health officials are considering whether boosters should be modified to better fit recent changes in the coronavirus.

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The first time Mancini contracted COVID-19, she and her fiancé developed a fever and were ill for two weeks. At that time, she could not get tested, but a couple of months later she took an antibody test, which showed that she was infected.

“It was really scary because it was so new and we just knew people were dying from it,” Mancini said. “We were really sick. I haven’t been this sick in a long time.”

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She got vaccinated

in the spring of 2021 and thought that she was protected from another infection, especially since before that she was sick. But while such “hybrid immunity” may provide strong protection, it does not guarantee that someone will not get COVID-19 again.

Mancini’s second attack, which occurred during a huge omicron wave, began with a sore throat. She tested negative at first, but still felt ill as she drove to the concert four hours away. So she ducked into Walgreens and ran a quick test in her car. It was positive, she said, “so I just turned the car around and drove back to Manhattan.”

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This attack turned out to be milder, with “the worst sore throat of my life”, stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing.

The latter illness was even milder, causing sinus pressure, head fog, dizziness, and fatigue. The one positive on a home test and confirmed by a PCR test was in despite her Moderna booster.

Mancini has no known medical conditions that could put her at risk of contracting COVID-19. She takes precautions such as disguises at the grocery store and on the subway. But she doesn’t usually wear a mask on stage.

“I’m a singer and I go to these crowded bars and these little clubs, some of which don’t have good ventilation and I’m just among a lot of people,” Mancini said. who also plays accordion and percussion. “This is the price I paid for doing a lot over the past few years. That’s how I make a living.”

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Scientists don’t know exactly why some people get re-infected and others don’t, but they believe several factors may be involved: health and biology, exposure to certain variants, the extent of the virus in the community, vaccination status, and behavior. British researchers have found that people are more likely to get re-infected if they were not vaccinated, were younger or had a mild infection the first time.

Scientists are also not sure how soon a person can become infected after a previous attack. And there is no guarantee that each infection will be milder than the previous one.

“I’ve seen it go both ways,” said Dr. Wesley Long, a pathologist at the Houston Methodist School. However, in general, breakthrough infections that occur after vaccination tend to be milder, he said.

Doctors say that vaccination and revaccination is the best protection against severe COVID-19 and death, and there is some evidence that it also reduces the chance of reinfection.

There aren’t enough documented cases of multiple re-infections at this point “to really know what the long-term effects are,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of Baylor University’s School of Tropical Medicine.

But a large new study using data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has not yet been reviewed by scientists, provides some insight that reinfection increases the risk of serious consequences and health problems, such as lung problems, heart disease. and diabetes compared with the first infection. The risks were most pronounced when someone had Covid-19, but persisted after an acute illness.

Since Mancini’s last fight, she has struggled with dizziness, headaches, insomnia and sinus problems, though she wondered if it had more to do with her busy schedule. She’s had 16 shows and rehearsals in the last week and doesn’t have room for another COVID-19 reprise.

“It wasn’t fun,” she said. “I don’t want to have it again.”

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