If you have been immunized against COVID-19 and have a history of specific psychiatric problems then you face a higher risk of breakthrough disease. That’s according to a study that the University of California (UC) San Francisco, conducted recently.
The risk may be connected to decreased immune response as well as dangerous behaviors associated with various diseases, according to researchers from the University of California (UC) San Francisco in the United States.
The study, published on Thursday in the journal JAMA Network Open, discovered that individuals over 65 with drug misuse, psychotic illnesses, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, and anxiety faced up to a 24% greater chance of developing breakthrough COVID.
The risks were up to 11% greater for individuals under 65 than for those without a psychiatric history, according to the study.
They analyzed data from over 2.5 lakh US Department of Veterans Affairs patients who had finished their immunization regimen and had at least one SARS-CoV-2 test.
Just over half of the patients (51.4%) had obtained at least one psychiatric diagnosis in the previous five years, and 14.8% developed breakthrough COVID, as proven by a positive test.
Aoife O’Donovan, senior study author from UCSF, stated, “Our findings imply that greater breakthrough infections in persons with psychiatric problems cannot be explained entirely by socio-demographic characteristics or pre-existing conditions. Immunity following vaccination may fade more rapidly or more strongly in patients with psychiatric problems, and they may have poorer protection against newer variations.”
They analyzed data from over 2.5 lakh US Department of Veterans Affairs patients who had finished their immunization regimen and had at least one SARS-CoV-2 test. When both demographic characteristics and pre-existing diseases were controlled for, participants with psychiatric problems had a 3% greater risk for breakthrough COVID infections in 2021, compared to participants without a psychiatric history, according to the study.
However, the risk was 24% greater for over-65s who used drugs, 23% higher for those who had psychotic illnesses, 16% higher for those who had bipolar disorder, 14% for those who had adjustment disorder, and 12% for those who had anxiety, according to the study. Given the higher prevalence of new infections among younger persons, the study found much lower impacts in the under-65 age group.
The risks were 10% lower among those with psychotic disorders compared to those without a psychiatric diagnosis, according to the researchers.
They ascribe this drop to younger persons with psychotic disorders having less socialisation than older people, who “may be less socially isolated due to their larger burden of ill health and connections with caretakers.”
According to research first author Kristen Nishimi of UCSF, the greater prevalence of breakthrough infection among older individuals may be related to “decreased immunological response to vaccine that has been associated with specific psychiatric problems, which may be more severe in older adults.”
She also speculated that older persons with psychiatric problems “may require more frequent in-person care, which could increase their interactions with the health care system.”
Breakthrough risks for various non-psychiatric illnesses were computed and corrected by characteristics such as obesity, smoking status, and other underlying conditions.
The researchers discovered that people with chronic renal illness had a 23% greater risk, compared to 20% for HIV, 19% for cardiovascular disease, 18% for COPD, and 13% for sleep apnea.
This demonstrates that certain psychiatric illnesses, particularly in the 65-plus age range, confront risks comparable to other conditions, according to O’Donovan. She noted, “Mental health should be considered with other risk factors, and some people should be prioritized for boosters and other vital preventive initiatives.”