Dec. 1, 2021 -- Patients who survive a severe case of COVID-19 are more than twice as likely to die during the following year than those who have mild symptoms and those who haven’t been infected, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Medicine.

The increased risk was greater for patients under 65, the study found. Only 20% of the deaths from severe COVID-19 resulted from typical coronavirus complications, such as respiratory failure.

That means serious coronavirus infections may significantly damage long-term health and lead to major life-threatening issues later.

“We conducted a previous study that showed that patients with severe COVID-19 who recovered were at significantly greater risk of being hospitalized in the subsequent six months. This new study extended that to investigate mortality risk over the next 12 months,” Arch Mainous, PhD, the lead study author at the University of Florida, told The Guardian.

The research team analyzed the electronic health records of more than 13,000 patients who were tested for COVID-19 within the University of Florida health system. Among those, 178 patients had severe virus symptoms and were hospitalized within the first 30 days of testing positive. Another 246 patients had mild or moderate symptoms, and the rest tested negative. All patients included in the study recovered from COVID-19.

How Do COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines Work?Some of the COVID-19 vaccines are known as mRNA shots. How are they different from traditional vaccines? And do they contain the real virus?189


SPEAKER: How does a COVID-19

mRNA vaccine work?

COVID vaccines are now


Some of the COVID-19 vaccines

are mRNA vaccines, but what does

this mean?

mRNA vaccines are

different from traditional


mRNA vaccines don't expose you

to any real virus instead,

they're made with messenger

Ribonucleic Acid or mRNA.

This is a type of molecule that

gives instructions to the cell

for how to make different kinds

of proteins.

mRNA molecules are

a natural part of our cells

and how our bodies work.

Researchers have been working

with mRNA vaccines

for many years.

They are made more easily

and safely in a lab

than a vaccine that uses

a virus.

Because of this they can also

be made faster.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines

have passed many tests in labs

and in thousands of people,

and meet strict standards

from the FDA.

So how do these vaccines work?

First, a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine

is injected into a muscle

in your upper arm.

Some muscle cells take the mRNA

instructions in the vaccine

and make a harmless piece

of a protein called

a spike protein.

This protein is found

on the outside of the SARS-CoV-2

virus that causes COVID-19.

The muscle cells then destroy

the instructions for how to make

the spike protein.

The mRNA never goes

into the nucleus of your cells

where your DNA is stored.

The newly made spike protein now

sits on the surface

of the muscle cells.

Your immune system senses

the spike protein

as a foreign threat to destroy,

it starts making antibodies

to fight anything

with that spike protein on it.

This will help your body's

immune system recognize

and fight the real virus if it

ever shows up.

It's like recognizing someone

by the hat they wear.

Your body is then

prepared to spot COVID-19

and fight it off before it grows

in your body's cells.

Fast facts to remember

about COVID-19 mRNA vaccines.

They help get your body

ready to fight off the COVID-19

virus before it makes you sick,

they don't use

any live, dead, or weak virus,

they can't give you COVID-19,

they don't affect your DNA.

Want to learn more,

go to to find more

information about mRNA vaccines.

You can also learn more about

how the vaccines were approved




From Krames/delivery/aws/e1/19/e1194689-aff0-4d9e-9fd2-2c0084642589/b37084c0-2e1f-4b66-958c-96e7a6c3f4db_krames_activating_health_how_mrna_vaccine_works_021021_,4500k,2500k,1000k,750k,400k,.mp402/10/2021 12:00:0018001200photo of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/article_thumbnails/video/1800x1200_krames_activating_health_how_mrna_vaccine_works_video.jpg091e9c5e8210a400

Patients who had the most severe symptoms had a 2.5 times higher chance of dying during the next year than those who tested negative and a 1.9 times greater risk than those with mild symptoms. For patients under age 65, the risk increased to 3.3 times higher, as compared to those who tested negative, and 2.8 times higher, as compared to those with mild symptoms.

About 20% of the deaths were for respiratory or cardiovascular causes, which are typically linked with coronavirus complications. The risk of death from respiratory disease was 4.5 times higher for those with severe COVID-19, as compared to those who tested negative. Similarly, the risk of death from heart issues was 3 times higher.

The other 80% of the deaths stemmed from a wide variety of reasons that aren’t typically associated with the coronavirus. Patients likely had an overall decline in their health that left them vulnerable to other illnesses and diseases, the study authors said.

“Since we now know that there is a substantial risk of dying from what would likely be considered to be an unrecognized complication of COVID-19, we need to be even more vigilant in decreasing severe episodes of COVID-19,” Mainous said.

The patients often died long after the coronavirus infection had passed, the study authors found. The deaths may not have been linked to COVID-19 by the patients’ families or doctors.

“Taking your chances and hoping for successful treatment in the hospital doesn’t convey the full picture of the impact of COVID-19,” Mainous said. “Our recommendation at this point is to use preventive measures, such as vaccination, to prevent severe episodes of COVID-19.”

Show Sources

Frontiers in Medicine: “COVID-19 Post-acute Sequelae Among Adults: 12 Month Mortality Risk.”

The Guardian: “Severe Covid infection doubles chances of dying in following year, study finds.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info