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Breakthrough COVID more likely in people with certain mental illnesses: study

A new study suggests that people with a history of certain mental illnesses may be at higher risk for breakthrough COVID-19 infections after being vaccinated.

Researcher Kristen Nishimi said this could be because patients with certain psychiatric disorders may have a “diminished immunological response to the vaccine”.

And the results show that people with psychiatric disorders should be one of the priority groups for booster shots and other prevention efforts, the researchers said.

The study, from the University of California, San Francisco, looked at data from 263,697 fully vaccinated patients who accessed U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs healthcare between February 2020 and November 2021. They released their findings. last Thursday in the magazine. Open JAMA Network.

Of the cohort, 135,481 patients (51.4%) were diagnosed with at least one psychiatric disorder such as substance abuse, psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, and anxiety. In addition, 39,109 patients (14.8%) developed a breakthrough infection.

The researchers found that for patients younger than 65, the risk of developing a breakthrough COVID-19 infection was up to 11% higher for those who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. And for patients 65 or older, having a psychiatric history was up to 24% more likely to contract COVID-19.

Given the higher incidence of breakthrough infections in older patients, Nishimi said the lower immunological response to the vaccine linked to certain psychiatric disorders “may be more important in older people.”

“(Older patients) may require more frequent in-person care, which could increase their interactions with the healthcare system,” Nishimi said in a press release on Thursday.

For both groups, risk factors were also adjusted for variables such as age, race, vaccine type, underlying conditions

“Our research suggests that the increase in breakthrough infections in people with psychiatric disorders cannot be fully explained by socio-demographic factors or pre-existing conditions,” lead author Aoife O’Donovan said in the release. hurry. “Mental health is important to consider in conjunction with other risk factors.”

Risk factors varied depending on the type of disease. For patients 65 and older, the study found the risk of having a breakthrough infection was 24% higher in people with a history of substance abuse, 23% higher in people with psychotic disorder , 16 percent higher in people with bipolar disorder, 14 percent for adjustment disorder and 12 percent for anxiety.

O’Donovan says a possible explanation may be due to waning immunity exacerbated by these mental health issues.

“It is possible that post-vaccination immunity wanes faster or more steeply for people with psychiatric disorders and/or that they are less protected against new variants,” she said.

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