Welcome to the Great Reinfection
An encounter with Covid was once rare but now it is becoming more common. People who have had close encounters with Covid should get prepared for further encounters.
The pandemic was initially thought to be over after a person had recovered from COVID-19. However, people who had been infected by the virus could still become reinfected. This made the disease more dangerous than previously thought.
This novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world. People are getting infected again and again because of the virus. Even though people are getting infected every day, they are still getting better after being infected by the virus.
In this case, the virus changes enough that it is hard to recognize as the same virus. This new virus wears wigs and makeup to disguise itself. The virus is more difficult to fight because it is different than previous viruses.
Reinfections are very common. Health authorities define them differently. Some people do not consider them as reinfections.
In England, close to 900 thousand possible reinfections have already been identified since the beginning. Of these, more than ten thousand were a third infection, almost 100 were a fourth, and almost 300 were a fifth. Pulliam’s own research has tried to put a figure on how many infections are really reinfections. She finds that about fifteen percent of current infections in south africa are reinfections. And that is almost certainly an understatement, because our surveillance isn’t great and we probably missed a load of people’s first infections
She and her team have also monitored many cases of reinfection. They have discovered that the protection an initial Omicron infection offers against reinfection stays the same throughout the entire period of the Beta wave and the entire period of the Delta wave. This means that the risk of reinfection remains high even after Omicron has been eradicated. South Africa is uniquely positioned to study reinfection because it was the first country to experience the epidemic.
Omicron is the virus that is currently ruling the world. Other studies show that Omicron is five times more likely to infect people than the previous dominant strain, Delta.
Laith J. Abu-raddad, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Weill-Cornell Medical College in Qatar, says that the effectiveness of a CoviD infection against a reinfecting strain hovers around 90% before Omicron, and drops to 50% post-Omicron. This means that the risk of getting reinfected is now higher than ever. Even though some people who have been infected by Omicron may be reinfected within 20 days, most people who have been infected with Omicron are not reinfected within 20days. Therefore, we should consider these cases as new infections.
In the same way as the koala, the original BA.1 strain of Omicron offers little protection against the newer strains.
This could be a sign that this virus is beginning to mimic other coronaviruses. We all come down a coronavirus infection every three years. Sometimes even multiple times within the year. Sars-Cov-2 could be no difference. However, we don’t know whether these repeat infections were due to the fact that initial infection gave us immunity that wanes quickly after that, or if the viruses evolve to outsmart our previous built immune weapons.
Previous work that has attempted to address this question leans towards the former theory. Knowing this, Sigal suggests that designing a better vaccine is the most effective way to fight all these reinfections. Moderna is already producing data on a broader-based booster vaccine that mixes equal parts of the spike protein from both the OG and Beta variants. This seems to be working better at providing more universal coverages against the virus.
At the end of the day the good news is that you are unlikely to get a severe case of the virus in another study by Abu-Raddad. Your chances of getting sick again are about 90% lower than if you had been infected once before. However, you should still try not repeat the experience. While the risk of serious illness or death seems to be much less if you are reinfected, it does not mean that there are not people who die on their 2nd infection.
The more people harbor the coronavirus, the more likely a new variant emerges. This variant may be worse than the original. On an individual level, a second reinfection may lead to long term damage.