How new variables might affect your chances of re-infection with COVID

Last year, it seemed as if coronavirus infections were rare. Yes, it has, but the vast majority of people who have already contracted COVID will likely not catch the virus again anytime soon.

But recent data suggests that reinfection is becoming more common, particularly with the spread of new variants. The New York Department of Health recently published a file Report It shows that just over 4% of all COVID infections in the state are re-infected – and nearly 87% of them have occurred since December 2021. Washington State He reported that 45,312 people had reported reinfection since September 2021 – 2.3% of them were hospitalized and 0.2% died.

The slight increase in re-infection is likely to be influenced by two factors: first, that newer variants can evade the antibody response and reinfection, and second, that we now document cases of re-infection more rigorously and get a more accurate picture of their frequency.

Coronaviruses are known to infect people over and over again. In fact, the common cold coronaviruses circulating today (and frequently reinfecting people) are widely believed to have originated from previous coronavirus epidemics. Many infectious disease doctors believe that, as with these strains, we may be susceptible to infections again, but that the symptoms will become milder and milder over time.

“With the increased immunity, with our T cells becoming more diverse and broad, we hope that again a second infection will not feel as bad as the first,” he said. Monica Gandhian infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

Here’s how long re-infections with COVID can now occur.

We now know that the antibodies, which work to prevent infection in the first place, begin to decline few months After vaccination or injury. In addition, as the coronavirus has mutated, it has become less recognizable by the immune system.

Because of this, the variants are able to overcome the immune system’s first line of defense and re-infect us, according to Julie Parsonettean epidemiologist and professor of infectious diseases at Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Using Omicron, we are seeing many cases in previously infected people, even when they were also vaccinated,” Parsonette said.

“With omicron, we are seeing many cases in previously infected people, even when they were also vaccinated.”

Julie Parsonette, epidemiologist and professor of infectious diseases

Pablo Benalusa McMasterPeople who have recently recovered from the infection or have recovered may be susceptible to infection again in about six months, said assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Parsonette noted that she had heard of at least one patient who was fully vaccinated and was doubly enhanced to omicron six weeks after the previous infection.

newly study From Denmark I found it, though very Rarely, re-infection with omicron sub-variants can occur in as little as 20 days. Of the 1.8 million infections recorded between November 2021 and February 2022, 1,739 were detected within 60 days.

This does not mean that after two months of recovery, there is a good chance of contracting COVID again. In fact, a prepress study I recently discovered that infection in people who had already had COVID was 90% less common than in people who had never been infected. Infection above the vaccine really enhances Antibody levelsAnd This should protect most people well from infection for at least four months, Gandhi said.

Determining who is most at risk of infection is not an exact science – some people will be better protected and less likely to become infected depending on factors such as Age, genetics, and baseline health. The rate of infection again also depends on the variant — the type of mutation the virus picks up — and the viral load the person has been exposed to, according to Penaloza-MacMaster.

Re-infection tends to be less severe.

The bulk of the evidence indicates that COVID infections, in general, tend to be less severe than primary infections. in danish studynearly all who were reinfected with BA.2 after previously infected with BA.1 experienced mild symptoms for a few days and significantly lower viral loads the second time – even those who were not vaccinated.

Although our immune system weakens over time, the ingredients that keep us Safe from disease The intense results remain powerful and long-lasting (even when agreement with new variables).

Re-infections, especially in vaccinated individuals, are usually milder compared to the initial infection, due to an arsenal of memory T cells and B cells,” Penaloza-MacMaster said.

research Reinfection is suggested and enhancers enhance the T-cell response. “As you’d expect, getting hit again basically protects you more” from severe consequences, Gandhi said. Of course, boosters are the safest ones you don’t want to re-infect on purpose.

According to Penaloza-MacMaster, the severity of an individual’s reinfection is also affected by the variant they contract along with the dose of virus they are exposed to and whether they have underlying health conditions that put them at risk. But often, it can be unexpected.

How will re-infection affect COVID for the long haul?

One of the key questions that epidemiologists will be tracking is how infection contributes to the long-running COVID.

We know that COVID-19 affects many organs, including the brain, lungs, and heart. Inflammation, which helps remove infected cells from the body, is a normal part of the body’s response to infection. When the body kills cells infected with the virus, it also destroys healthy cells.

“HReducing the virus involves a significant amount of “collateral damage,” Penaloza-MacMaster said, which is the main reason why the long-term inflammation that occurs during long-term infections is harmful.

if and hRe-infections contribute to COVID for a long time, and the potential harms to our organs are unclear. research Gandhi said that vaccination reduces the risk of prolonged infection with the COVID virus in people who have had a breakthrough infection. And while the vast majority of people who contract SARS-CoV-2 recover well without long-term consequences, it is not known whether this will persist after multiple infections.

“We don’t know the answer to that question, especially because as the variables change and our immune systems respond differently to them, their effect on the body changes a lot,” Parsonette said.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but the guidance could change as scientists learn more about the virus. Please check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest recommendations.

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