According to doctors who spoke to NBC News, getting COVID-19 more than once can cause lingering and chronic symptoms. The Oct. 12 interview revealed that the dangers of reinfection are especially heightened for Black people.
Emergency room physician in Maryland and Virginia, Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, said that the virus poses a serious threat to the Black community, despite the wide range of symptoms one person can experience when they are infected with the virus a second time. Varner began, “Some of the data clearly showed that Covid impacted Blacks disproportionately, so it only makes sense that it’s going to be the same with multiple infections because there are so many people who had it,” and “because we have more comorbidities such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity — the main drivers in terms of having a negative impact as it relates to Covid — with multiple infections the data is showing that each infection is like a health insult that will manifest itself more in the hardest-hit community, which is Black people.”
“So, you have a sick person getting this virus more than once and the outcome is going to be different, more harmful, than white counterparts.”
Some of the confounding issues in infection and severity rates are highest in the Black community. Issues such as health care disparities amplify the risk factors. A 2021 meta-analysis study on the impacts of Covid revealed that Black people were much more likely to need to be admitted into the Intensive Care Unit after being infected, and that is likely due to their lower likelihood of having health insurance, access to quality health care, or even clinical safety information.
Dr. Jayne Morgan, a cardiologist and the executive director of the Covid task force at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, explained that the exacerbated effects of Covid among people of color is “creating a cycle of hardships that could stunt family growth.”
Unfortunately, due to Covid’s intelligence, particularly the Omicron variant, the virus tends to have a combination of initially mild symptoms while being the most “infectious variant” to date. The initial lack of severity prompts people to continue on with business as usual, without knowing the devastating risk of reinfection.
Morgan explained, “It’s so incredibly successful, infecting people over and over again and making people say, ‘Oh, this is nothing.’ But it keeps swirling around. Reinfection doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be protected from the next evolution of the variants, which are hurting people now. So people have to take protective measures over reckless behavior, which, we are seeing now, is not without consequences.”
Successful Atlanta attorney Willian Matos opened up to NBC about his experience with repeatedly catching COVID-19. Matos, who had Covid three times, described having migraines and body aches the first time. In between catching it again Matos got the vaccination and booster shot, so thankfully he experienced more mild symptoms with the second two rounds. However, he admitted that having Covid “was murderous” and that he was afraid of the long term impacts of having it more than once.
“The impact of long Covid lingers,” he told the outlet. “People said it would be like the flu. Well, you get the flu and you get over it, hopefully, and you move on. That’s not what doctors are telling us about what they are seeing with Covid. You get it multiple times and it’s doing something to the body that the flu hasn’t.”
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