The mystery of COVID-19 reinfections: A global systematic review and meta-analysis

Rubaid Azhar Dhillon, Mohammad Aadil Qamar, Jaleed Ahmed Gilani, Omar Irfan, Usama Waqar, Mir Ibrahim Sajid, Syed Faisal Mahmood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, reports on disparities in vaccine roll out alongside COVID-19 reinfection have been emerging. We conducted a systematic review to assess the determinants and disease spectrum of COVID-19 reinfection. Materials and methods: A comprehensive search covering relevant databases was conducted for observational studies reporting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) confirmed infection and reinfection cases. A quality assessment tool developed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) for the assessment of case series was utilized. Meta-analyses were performed using RevMan 5.3 for pooled proportions of findings in first infection and reinfection with a 95% confidence interval (CI). Results: Eighty-one studies reporting 577 cases were included from 22 countries. The mean age of patients was 46.2 ± 18.9 years and 179 (31.0%) cases of comorbidities were reported. The average time duration between first infection and reinfection was 63.6 ± 48.9 days. During first infection and reinfection, fever was the most common symptom (41.4% and 36.4%, respectively) whilst anti-viral therapy was the most common treatment regimen administered (44.5% and 43.0%, respectively). Comparable odds of symptomatic presentation and management were reported for the two infections. However, a higher Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission rate was observed in reinfection compared to first infection (10 vs 3). Ten deaths were reported with respiratory failure being the most common cause of death (7/10 deaths). Conclusion: Our findings support immunization practices given increased ICU admissions and mortality in reinfections. Our cohort serves as a guide for clinicians and authorities in devising an optimal strategy for controlling the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103130
JournalAnnals of Medicine and Surgery
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • COVID-19
  • HIC
  • LMIC
  • Reactivation
  • Reinfection


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