The risk of long COVID-19 after subsequent infection

The chances of experiencing long COVID-19 after a second bout with the infection appear to be lower than the first time around, according to new survey findings. 

In an April 14 report, NPR spoke with Daniel Ayoubkhani, a statistician at the U.K.'s Office for National Statistics, about the latest results from an ongoing survey. 

The latest survey collected responses from nearly 270,000 people in the U.K. over the four-week period ending March 5. About 4 percent of adults reported persistent symptoms at least four weeks after their first infection. About 2.4 percent of adults who did not experience lingering issues after their first bout with COVID-19 said they did experience them the second time around. 

The findings suggest the risk for long COVID-19 is "significantly lower the second time around," Mr. Ayoubkhani said. However, the risk does not disappear. 

"It's still not negligible. It's not impossible to develop long COVID the second time if you didn't develop it the first time. I think that's the key takeaway from our study," Mr. Ayoubkhani told NPR. The study did not examine why the chances of experiencing persistent symptoms might be lower after a second infection, though researchers suspect it could be related to built-up immunity. 

In the U.S., physicians face numerous challenges treating patients, especially children, with long COVID-19. For one, there is still skepticism that COVID-19 and its lingering effects pose a threat to children. The condition also still lacks a unified definition, which makes developing effective treatments more difficult. 


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