IF further proof was needed that infection with SARS-CoV-2 has long-term sequelae for the human body, research led by Monash University has provided it, highlighting the need for GPs and other frontline physicians to be aware of their patients’ COVID-19 history.

The research, led by epidemiologist and PhD candidate Stacey Rowe, and coauthored by Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton and renowned infectious disease epidemiologist Professor Allen Cheng, among others, is published by the MJA.

“Essentially what we wanted to do was look to see what sort of hospitalisations might have been associated with having COVID-19 – did it cause other than respiratory complications, for example,” Ms Rowe told InSight+.

Rowe and colleagues analysed population-wide surveillance and administrative data for all laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases notified to the Victorian Department of Health from 23 January 2020 to 31 May 2021 – prior to the vaccination rollout and the appearance of the Omicron variant – and linked hospital admissions data (admission dates to 30 September 2021).

“A total of 20 594 COVID-19 cases were notified, and 2992 people (14.5%) were hospitalised with COVID-19,” Rowe and colleagues reported in the MJA.

“The incidence of hospitalisation within 89 days of onset of COVID-19 was higher than during the baseline period for several conditions, including myocarditis and pericarditis (IRR, 14.8; 95% CI, 3.2–68.3), thrombocytopenia (IRR, 7.4; 95% CI, 4.4–12.5), pulmonary embolism (IRR, 6.4; 95% CI, 3.6–11.4), acute myocardial infarction (IRR, 3.9; 95% CI, 2.6–5.8), and cerebral infarction (IRR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.4–3.9).”

In other words, says Ms Rowe, “there are considerable risks associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection” beyond the initial COVID-19 illness.

“You are 15 times more likely to acquire myocarditis requiring hospitalizations following COVID-19 compared with beforehand,” she said.

“Things like heart attacks, or acute myocardial infarction occur quite proximally to getting COVID infection, but other conditions such as the clotting conditions – pulmonary embolism, for example — that risk was highest later in the course of COVID illness, highest around 14 to 60 days following COVID illness.”

Other results were also telling.

“The incidence of hospitalisation with cerebral infarction was twice as high after COVID-19 onset as during the baseline period,” Rowe and colleagues wrote. “Other investigators (here, here and here) have estimated the risk of stroke to be 2–13 times as high for people with COVID-19.”

Professor Cheng, speaking with InSight+, said with testing and tracing of positive COVID-19 cases now not mandatory in Australia, it was harder to know just who has had COVID.

“What this study does suggest is that [the possibility of a previous COVID illness] should be on the radar, because there is a window of elevated risk,” he said.

“If someone presents with, say, chest pain, within a couple of months of having COVID, we really need to be attentive to that, because it’s probably a bit more likely that pain does represent a myocardial infarction than at other times.

“You can’t say that every heart attack that happens after COVID is due to COVID. But there is a period of elevated risk, and it seems to be close to when you got COVID.”

Rowe and colleagues recommend vaccination and “other mitigation strategies”.

“Our findings indicate the need for ongoing COVID-19 mitigation measures, including vaccination, and support the early diagnosis and management of complications in people with histories of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” they wrote.

“The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying symptom persistence and the development of major complications still need to be elucidated, the prevalence of the post-COVID-19 condition (by vaccination status) established, and the risks of complications following vaccination quantified.”

Professor Cheng told InSight+:

“What [this study] does show is you’re better off not getting COVID and whatever way that you do that is probably a good thing.

“Vaccination is the simplest way to protect yourself from getting COVID, but it’s not perfect. Not going out when there’s a lot of COVID out there, wearing masks, improving ventilation and all those other things, are also important.”

At one point in the MJA article the authors wrote:

“Some COVID-19 complications clinically resemble those reported after vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, which is important when evaluating putatively post-vaccination adverse events. Further, we found that the incidence of hospitalisation with severe cardiac and thrombo-embolic events after SARS-CoV-2 infection was higher than the reported risk of these events after vaccination.”

Ms Rowe told InSight+:

“What we found with this study, and what other studies have found internationally is the risk of myocarditis is higher following SARS-CoV-2 infection, than it is following vaccination.

“While people [who feel they have been injured by the vaccine] might grab on to that, there are lots of studies now demonstrating that the risk is higher following infection, than it is following vaccination.”

Professor Cheng agreed.

“It’s important to acknowledge that people do get side-effects after vaccination – myocarditis happens, often after the second dose, usually within a day or so,” he said. “That’s very unambiguously due to vaccination.

“But the question from a public health point of view is, do the benefits outweigh the risks. COVID itself can cause myocarditis at a higher rate [than vaccination]. And that means you’re still better off getting vaccinated.”

Ms Rowe said the study showed that COVID-19 was not a simple respiratory disease.

“These findings really demonstrate COVID-19 is a multi-organ disease, it’s not a respiratory infection. If more research can be channelled into understanding those pathophysiological mechanisms, then we can then start thinking about how best we can prevent these.”

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Health departments at all levels should reintroduce COVID-19 testing, tracing, reporting and masking in indoor public spaces
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15 thoughts on “More proof COVID is a multi-system cluster bomb

  1. Gary Snow says:

    As a recent Age Grade Australian Masters Athletics gold medalist at the half marathon distance I thought a 10k race would be ok 2 months after Covid 19 infection but I passed out and injured myself. 3 days in hospital and ongoing heart testing have yet to find a reasonable explanation beyond exhaustion. I wonder what effect Covid had and continues to have?

  2. Wallace A Cowling says:

    High density public events, indoors, should require masks.

  3. MK says:

    Unbelievable that public health professionals have now established that COVID attacks basically every part of the body and that “mild” acute infections can still lead to catastrophic or fatal chronic symptoms and STILL the government acts as if constant, uncontrolled spread throughout the entire country is completely acceptable. The closest we have to public health leadership anymore is the occasional politician telling us we can wear a mask if we want to. Maybe some messaging informing people that COVID causes everything from heart attack to erectile dysfunction to autoimmune disorders? Maybe just mandating masks to try and stop children from dying or being disabled in schools? No, all too hard. Good luck out there folks, you need it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    As an older citizen and just a citizen of any age actually, it is beyond questionable why masks are not mandatory. Because of this lack of precaution I am home most of the time. I don’t get to see many people but I have anxiety mixing even to shop, so feel trapped. Surely sanitisers and masks are not great restrictions in the cause of public health. Why is there not more political pressure?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I continue to wear a mask. I put it in before I leave my home and take it off when I return. I take it off when eating or drinking (socialising) but that is outdoors as a rule. Distance when possible.

  6. Anonymous says:

    China is way more advanced and smarter than we are. We are debilitating our citizens for profit. Get your masks on! N95s I am a HCW, I’ve worked months in end 6 12 hour shifts a week never taking my N95 off except to eat. My husband as well. Our adult kids wear N95s in public. None of us have had Covid. I have underlying conditions as well as my husband and 1 of our sons. Well fitted masks work. We’ve been to packed venues in Las Vegas and LA. Baseball games as well. No Covid.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There’s always mention that other studies ‘support these findings’ (links, please), but this doesn’t exclude that also many other studies don’t support the findings.
    The difference usually comes down to who funds the study or the institution (BMGF grants etc) and other conflicts of interest of the authors, such as association with WHO (Sheena G Sullivan), which is extremely politicised and largely funded by private interests including Bill Gates and pharmaceutical companies making billions of dollars off health policies.
    From another study: No statistical difference in the incidence rate of both myocarditis (p =1) and pericarditis (p =0.17) was observed between the unvaccinated COVID-19 cohort and the unvaccinated control cohort [no covid]. Study population 780,000, Israel.

  8. Anonymous says:

    In response to the comment on sheer volume and cost of masks – in non-medical settings you can re-use N95 masks on a 7 day rotation system (storing each a labeled paper bag) and this reduces waste into the environment too. https://ozsage.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/We-urgently-need-better-masks-respirators-OzSAGE-text-only-31-January-2022.pdf

  9. Anonymous says:

    sorry but it must be mask mandates in ALL SETTINGS for everyone . Superspreading is known to happen indoors and outdoors and only requires a momentary close contact.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes China probably knows a great deal more! Why they will not accept the MRNA vaccines is a mystery! We have seen in the west strange behaviour from non vaccinated and not masked! I think you need a mask, keep you distance, keep your circle small and wash your hands! Everyone needs vaccinated and masked especially inside and outside in groups, we do not know enough about this covid but we might learn to late!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Correct. Right on the money.

  12. Shirley Hancock says:

    Recently noted that Takotsubo has been discovered in covid patients? Is this correct?

  13. Anonymous says:

    In regards to myocarditis risk, Prof Cheng leaves out a small part of the calculation: in order to have a risk of myocarditis from SarsCov2, one needs to catch the virus to be exposed to the risk (and contracting the virus is not guaranteed); whereas you have a 100% chance of exposure to the risk in breaching your skin with a generative mechanism for producing the antigen by having a vaccination.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Even just masking would increase protection for those who are doing their best to avoid covid by those who don’t accept the real risks of infection. This can be within households.
    I don’t understand the minimisation of risks.
    Even the medical profession is divided – had a GP state that the risks are over exaggerated. No one minimises the risks of measles, TB etc.
    Obviously the reason is sheer volume and cost, but decent masks at bare minimum, would stop other infection associated costs such as lost productivity, health care, and protect small children who have no defence against any infection and any long term effects of this.

  15. Anonymous says:

    China knows something serious that either we do not or we are ignoring. Will the virus cause massive long term damage which will make us the weaker in a war. For China to lock down so much makes then look a lot smarter than us. The research is showing brain damage and the govt shows more shingles ads than Covid ads. Why??

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