Health

Omicron has shattered what we know about COVID reinfections. Here’s why you may be vulnerable.

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First off, resistant COVID has one redeeming quality: It gives you short-term immunity from re-infection.

But Omicron’s latest innovations are breaking that trend. BA.5 caused more people to catch COVID a second or third time than previous versions.

BA.5 is known to have a greater mechanism to avoid immunity and spread from person-to-person more easily than other mutations in the Omicron family.

Here’s what you need to know about reinfections.

Reinfections are increasing

Emerging research shows the rate of re-infection is on the rise.

Helix, which makes a series of tests for COVID-19 to monitor the differences, has been identified in almost 300,000 infections since March 2021, the proportion of re-infections has almost doubled to 6.4% during the wave of BA. 5 in July from 3.6% during the BA.2 holiday in May

Helix data shows that the majority of reinfections in July occurred in people with COVID-19 in 2021.

Experts expect the rate of re-infection to continue to rise for two main reasons: BA.5 is highly contagious, and most of the country has already been infected with COVID-19 at least once.

At the beginning of the outbreak, delta strains are not quickly replaced by new variants and people with COVID-19 have some protection from re-infection for several months. But now, new types continue to invade the country one after another.

Since April, BA.2, BA.2.12.1 and now BA.5, have had a turn to be dominant. So Floridians who got the first Omicron strain in the spring may be vulnerable to re-infection from a different strain circulating this spring or fall.

Experts differ on how quickly you can get infected again

As a society, no one knows the extent of re-infection because people are testing at home or not testing at all.

However, the researchers feel confident the chances of getting COVID again if you have the virus or your most recent vaccine dose before 2022. Shishi Luo, assistant director of bioinformatics and epidemiology at Helix, said her data shows at on average, people who are re-infected now had their last infection about nine months ago.

So does this mean if you have had COVID-19 in the past few months, you are unlikely to get it again this spring or fall?

This answer varies depending on who you ask.

A new study supports the idea that the previous Omicron infection can provide some protection from BA.5., the new type. When analyzing the cases of COVID-19 recorded in Qatar between May 7 of this year – when BA.4 and BA.5 first entered the country – and July 4, researchers found that pre-infection with Omicron was 79.7% effective in inhibiting BA.4 and BA. 5 reinfection and 76.1% effective in preventing symptoms.

Dr. Michael Daignult, an emergency physician at Providence Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., says “You basically have a sevenfold chance of re-infection if the previous infection was before Omicron.” it protects you from some Omicron offspring to some extent, but nothing is 100%. “

Daignault also pointed to a new Danish paper released this week that shows significant protection against BA.5 in triple-vaccinated individuals with previous Omicron exposure. Daignult said he had COVID-19 for the first time in June and isn’t worried about re-infection — at least for now. “I am a healthy young man who has been vaccinated three times and recently contracted the disease. I am very protected.”

Most experts, however, believe the risk of re-infection varies from person to person. In some parts of the country, the outbreak of the disease is reported within a month.

Some of Florida’s seniors may find themselves in this situation, said Dr. Mary Jo Trepka, an epidemiologist affiliated with Florida International University.

“Your chances of recovery may depend on whether you’ve been vaccinated and up-to-date on your immunizations, the severity of your previous infection and how far away it is, since the immune system declines over time,” he said. per. “It also depends on your age and what’s underneath health conditions.”

Trepka said that even with immunity from a recent infection, the weather plays a role in whether you catch COVID again. “If you meet someone outside, you’re going to be exposed to a smaller virus than if you’re living with someone who’s infected with a higher virus load.”

Symptoms may vary each time

Doctors see evidence that symptoms are milder and shorter if you get COVID-19 for the second or third time, but it’s hard to say for sure that this will be the case for everyone. You may still have a fever and experience fatigue, sore throat, brain fog and other symptoms.

Dr. O’Neill J. Pyke, chief medical officer at Jackson North Medical Center, said he was diagnosed with the original COVID-19 in 2020. He was short of breath, lost pounds 20 and lost work for 45 days.

Pyke contracted another case of COVID-19 last month. So far he has been vaccinated and had his shot seven months ago. This time he had a bad headache and fatigue.

“The only thing that was bad was three days,” he said. After six days he was able to return to work.

In looking at Jackson’s COVID clinics, Pyke said it’s possible that people who are susceptible to the virus and have been sick during a previous infection may develop symptoms when reinfected. It is also possible, he said, that someone who is healthy, vaccinated and recently infected may have symptoms that they do not know they have COVID unless they are tested for work or others reasons.

Reinfections come with risks

Experts still don’t have a complete picture of the health risks that come from frequent exposure to COVID, but new research aims to shed some light.

Ziyad Al-Aly, a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Washington and chief research and development officer at the VA St. Louis Health Care System, used the health records of 5.7 million US soldiers to measure the risk of re-infection. He found that every time you contract COVID, your chances of getting really sick with something like a blood clot or lung damage seem to go up. The risk remains whether people are fully vaccinated or not.

“It’s also possible that the first infection weakens other organ systems and puts people at greater risk of health problems when they get a second or third infection,” Al-Aly told WebMD.

His findings were published online on June 17 as a pre-published study, which means it has not yet been peer-reviewed.

How to prevent re-infection

The fatigue of COVID sets in, the masks are closed and people are gathering at home again, as BA.5 comes along and it is very contagious.

Vaccination or immunization is a good way to maintain high levels of immunity and prevent serious diseases. You only need to wait a few weeks after infection to get the shot, the CDC says.

Dr. Cory Harow, an emergency physician at West Boca Medical Center, said being up-to-date with shots “really makes a difference, especially in older people.”

“With more COVID in the community, more people are getting sick enough to need hospitalization,” he said.

Harow says if you have an upcoming event or trip and want to avoid it re-infection, even if you have an Omicron, wear a mask in crowded places and make sure you get a boost. “If you want to reduce your chances, it’s something you should consider.”


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©2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

hint: Omicron breaks down what we know about re-infection with COVID. Here’s why you can be vulnerable. (2022, July 27) retrieved 27 July 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-omicron-shattered-covid-reinfections-vulnerable.html

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