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Study of long-term effects of COVID reinfections reveal lasting health problems

COVID: Study reveals the long-term dangers of reinfection
COVID: Study reveals the long-term dangers of reinfection 02:13

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- A study reveals the dangers of COVID reinfection is shedding light on the long-term effects of the virus. 

As cases rise with the new BA.5 subvariant, the study suggests COVID is really not like a cold or flu and can cause lasting health problems.

Lois Tucker has never tested positive for COVID.

"I don't see any reason to court that," she said. "I'm not interested in going through that. Aging is difficult enough."

Tucker feels fortunate, I especially since she's seen what her brother has gone through. He has long COVID and suffers from shortness of breath and brain fog. 

COVID: UCSF expert calls BA.5 variant 'a beast with a new superpower' 04:33

"The thing that bothers him the most is his legs and his feet. Just a tingling, numb feeling in his feet," said Tucker.

While doctors have been trying to find out more about the cause of long-term COVID, a new study out of the Veterans Affairs Health System has found some alarming results of the health risks due to reinfection. The results were published in the journal Nature.

Those that have had two or more cases of COVID had more than twice the risk of dying. They also are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized within 6 months of their last infection. 

"That's the problem with this damn thing. Just when you think you got it figured out, understand the dimensions of it, it comes up with a new curve ball and it's like that I used to think two months ago no longer works," said Dr. Bob Wachter, the Chair of UCSF Medicine .

Dr. Wachter adds some of the health problems include strokes and heart attacks. He doesn't see a statewide mask mandate returning but warns this is the time to take precautions with the new BA.5 subvariant spreading rapidly.

"There's a ton of cases around and a variant that is far more infectious than ever before. And that vaccination and prior infection don't work as well as they used to in preventing new cases."

Dr. Wachter still advises those that need to get the booster to get the shot. While it may not stop you from catching COVID, he says it's effective in preventing severe illness.

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