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Influenza-like illness symptoms due to endemic human coronavirus reinfections are not influenced by the length of the interval separating reinfections.

Sechan, F., Edridge, A.W.D., Rijswijk, J. van, Jebbink, M.F., Deijs, M., Bakker, M., Matser, A., Prins, M., Hoek, L. van der. Influenza-like illness symptoms due to endemic human coronavirus reinfections are not influenced by the length of the interval separating reinfections. Microbiology Spectrum: 2024, p. e0391223.
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Objective
After 3 years of its introduction to humans, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been declared as endemic. Little is known about the severity of the disease manifestation that future infections may cause, especially when reinfections occur after humoral immunity from a previous infection or vaccination has waned. Such knowledge could inform policymakers regarding the frequency of vaccination. Reinfections by endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) can serve as a model system for SARS-CoV-2 endemicity.

Methods
We monitored 44 immunocompetent male adults with blood sampling every 6 months (for 17 years), for the frequency of HCoV (re-)infections, using rises in N-antibodies of HCoV-NL63, HCoV-29E, HCoV-OC43, and HCoV-HKU1 as markers of infection. Disease associations during (re-)infections were examined by comparison of self-reporting records of influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms, every 6 months, by all participants.

Findings
During 8,549 follow-up months, we found 364 infections by any HCoV with a median of eight infections per person. Symptoms more frequently reported during HCoV infection were cough, sore throat, and myalgia. Two hundred fifty-one of the 364 infections were species-specific HCoV-reinfections, with a median interval of 3.58 (interquartile range 1.92-5.67) years. The length of the interval between reinfections-being either short or long-had no influence on the frequency of reporting ILI symptoms. All HCoV-NL63, HCoV-229E, HCoV-OC43, and HCoV-HKU1 (re-)infections are associated with the reporting of ILIs. Importantly, in immunocompetent males, these symptoms are not influenced by the length of the interval between reinfections. Little is known about the disease following human coronavirus (HCoV) reinfection occurring years after the previous infection, once humoral immunity has waned. We monitored endemic HCoV reinfection in immunocompetent male adults for up to 17 years. We found no influence of reinfection interval length in the disease manifestation, suggesting that immunocompetent male adults are adequately protected against future HCoV infections.