Coronavirus reinfection: Senior citizens more likely to get reinfected, according to a new study

Written by eveningindia

COVID-19 reinfection, though rare, is a real possibility.

The emergence of newer mutations and variants is also making many test positive for the virus more than once.

While there’s a lot of uncertainty and unclear clinical evidence on the matter, increasing studies are now pointing out that not only is reinfection a true threat, some high-risk groups, particularly those above 65 years of age face the highest risk of getting reinfected by COVID-19.

From waning immunity to pre-existing medical illnesses, there are many factors that make senior citizens prone to COVID severity. With studies now fast pointing towards the latest evidence, senior citizens face a greater risk from COVID. We explain.

What do studies indicate?

While clinical studies have established reinfection to be a rarer possibility right now, a recent COVID reinfection study based out of Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark found that senior citizens, those above the age of 65 faces the highest dangers of getting COVID again.

For the same, Danish scientists compared positivity rates from over 10.6 million tests conducted between September-December 2020 with infection rates from the first phase of infection (March-May 2020) to observe the rates of reinfection. It was observed that while fewer younger people were testing positive again, senior citizens were getting reinfected more than the younger ones.

How long does immunity last after infection?

Current clinical evidence suggests that natural immunity after COVID lasts for at least 6-8 months time. However, that being said, different people can display different responses and be subjected to diminishing immunity.

COVID, as a disease is directly linked to how good or bad a person’s immunity is. Age-related diminishing immunity could thus put the elderly population at the risk of getting reinfected, and more prone to experiencing complications as well the second time around.

Why do elderlies face a higher risk?

The Danish study observed that those over the age of 65 had a staggering protection rate against COVID, i.e. 47.1%, which made them more prone to the ills of getting reinfected.

While immunity is said to wane over time, elderlies are also said to suffer from disrupted working of T-cell immune cells and preventive responses, which can make some susceptible to dangers of poor COVID outcomes.

What other factors increase one’s risk of getting COVID twice?

Findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have also observed that severe comorbidity risk could also increase one’s risk of getting reinfected by the virus.

More particularly, conditions like diabetes, obesity and chronic respiratory disorders may make elderlies, with frail immunity even more susceptible to the perils of COVID reinfection. Immune disorders and diseases that diminish immune response may also put you at risk.

Conditions like diabetes and obesity increase inflammation in the body, which can deter the immune system from mounting a proper antibody response.

Diabetic patients, particularly, have a faster waning immune response, which means that they face the highest possible risk of catching the infection again.

Vaccination should be prioritized

Though elderlies face the highest possible risk of getting infected (and reinfected), prioritizing vaccination drives for those above 55 is right now, the only way to protect them from severity and complications.

Vaccine-driven, artificial immunity will also be able to strengthen the natural immune response for those who have been reinfected and help prompt a more robust response against the deadly pathogen. From what is believed right now, those with a history of COVID-19 may only require one dose of the vaccine which will further help speed up vaccination. Some studies also believe that a bout of infection could grant them a better response as well. Hence, there is a crucial need to quash hesitancy rates and vaccinate all those at risk as early as possible.

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