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Dengue increases risk of COVID-19 symptoms

Researchers visit homes to take blood samples in the municipality of Mâncio Lima, Acre

Bárbara Prado

The risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms when infected with the novel coronavirus is twice as high among individuals who have had dengue in the past. The finding is based on analyses of blood samples from 1,285 residents of Mâncio Lima, Acre, collected in November 2019 before the pandemic began and then again in November 2020. The research team, led by physician Marcelo Urbano Ferreira of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of São Paulo, identified antibodies against the dengue virus in 37% of the population sampled in November 2019. They also found SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in 35.2% of the November 2020 samples. They then cross-referenced this data with clinical information from volunteers who had COVID-19. They found that having previously contracted dengue did not change the risk of contamination by SARS-CoV-2. The probability of developing COVID-19 symptoms, however, was twice as high among those who had already had dengue (Clinical Infectious Diseases, May 6). It is not yet known whether the reasons for this phenomenon are biological or socioeconomic.