Can you catch SARS-CoV-2 twice? : Goat and soda: NPR


A positive COVID test at home. Once you catch it, can you catch it again? The answer is yes.

Jakub Porzitsky / NurFoto via Getty Images


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Jakub Porzitsky / NurFoto via Getty Images


A positive COVID test at home. Once you catch it, can you catch it again? The answer is yes.

Jakub Porzitsky / NurFoto via Getty Images

We always answer frequently asked questions about life during a coronavirus crisis. If you have any questions and would like to see them in a future post, please email us goatsandsoda@npr.org with the topic: “Weekly Questions on Coronavirus.” See our archive of frequently asked questions here.

In January, you contracted COVID, so you thought you had the virus for a while. But then you started having a sore throat and a runny nose, and you took a test at home. just – That second line flushed again.

You may be wondering: How can this be? Can I still get COVID a few months or weeks after I recover from work?

We asked four specialists to answer the most frequently asked questions about infection.

I thought I had immunity – at least for a while – after I had COVID. is not the story?

If you hold the previous option – before the omicron arrives – it means you have 84% less infection, which significantly reduces your risk of re-infecting your COVID, especially in the months immediately after you become ill.

But omicron variants have changed that.

A study published in March found that the risk of re-infection was “significantly increased” with the appearance of omicron in November, said Juliet Pulliam, co-author of the study and director of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis.

There are now several omicron variants around the world that are highly contagious and are very good at overcoming immunity, whether from a vaccine, a previous infection, or both.

These omicron options do not avoid the protection you receive from the non-omichron version of SARS-CoV-2; Even if you have the original version of the Omiron before, you can catch the new versions of the Omiron.

And protection against infection slows down over time, so you may be re-infected a few months after your last COVID discharge or after your illness has healed.

But there is some good news: So far, the newest versions of omicron do not look better in overcoming immunity than the original omicron.

The most recent renaissance in South Africa is now caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron sub-lines. With these options, the risk of “re-infection” seems to be approximately the same for BA.1 – higher than before. [non-omicron] options, but not higher than the omicron sub-line in circulation at first, ”Pulliam told the NPR via email.

How long can I re-infect?

Experts are still trying to solve this. However, in Denmark, between March 2020 and March 2021, 60% of non-Omicron variant infections occurred less than two months after the first infection, which researchers found in a preprine study that was not reviewed or published.

This means that after an infection, you may have less protection than you think.

Remember: Danish researchers examined only 15 confirmed infections out of 593 suspected cases. This number is low for several reasons: first, re-infections were not so common at that time.

Because the new options are much better at overcoming the previous immunity, our experts say that if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 and then begin to show symptoms similar to COVID, you should be tested for re-infection.

Can repetition be easier or harder?

Studies in South Africa have shown that previous infections protect against serious consequences, including hospitalization and death.

Re-infection, hospitalization, and death “appear to occur from time to time, but both natural infection and vaccination provide better protection against severe consequences in most people,” Pulliam said.

Another Qatari study showed that 87% of previous infections were protective against COVID-19, which is severe or fatal.

However, some conditions, such as organ transplants, cancer treatment, or heart or lung disease, can make you vulnerable to the virus, even if you have been exposed to the virus through vaccination or infection.

Jacob Lemie, an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, said: “In immunocompromised patients, the severity of the disease depends on the patient and how weak their immune system is.” “We can’t say exactly what the effect will be.”

However, the severity of your illness also depends on how long it has been since your last or previous fight with COVID, as such protection will slow down over time, so it’s a good idea to stick to your vaccination schedule.

I took Paxlovid, and a few days later I was positive again. Is it a re-infection?

According to Robert Wachter, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and head of the medical department, this is probably not an example of a re-infection, but something called “re-emergence” when some patients notice symptoms and pass a positive test. Medication again after 2-8 days.

That was the case with Wachter’s wife. After taking Paxlovid, his symptoms improved significantly and he began to test negative in rapid tests. But four days later, he developed new symptoms – his throat hurt, fatigue and headaches in the first round, and when he came back, he felt like he had a really bad cold with a congestion – and he passed the positive test again.

The potential for recurrence has led him to reconsider the use of Paxlovid among young people who have not had serious consequences, he says. However, if he became ill, he would still take Paxlovid because of his potential risk factors.

This is because in clinical trials, Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization in high-risk individuals by 89%, so people with risk factors such as immunosuppression or over 65 years of age benefit greatly from antiviral use. . According to a new study, this protection applies to both those who have been vaccinated and those who have not, and those who are at high risk.

“It’s true,” Wachter said. “How important this really is to you depends on the speed of your hospitalization and how much risk you have for a bad event that could cause you severe pain, hospitalization, or death.”

Do vaccines help prevent re-infection?

Getting vaccinated can help prevent infection and re-infection, so it’s a good idea to get vaccinated, even if you think you’ve been protected from COVID before.

“They are better protected for those who have been vaccinated and those who have been infected,” said Peter Palese, a professor at the Ikan Medical School in Mount Sinai and head of the microbiology department.

“Especially if you’ve had serious work before, updating your COVID shots now, and if you re-infect, you may have a less difficult task,” Palese said.

“Vaccination is a vaccine. Because, yes, it doesn’t protect you from getting a mild illness, but they do protect you from a ventilator, resuscitation or death,” he said.

However, the immunity offered by vaccines, especially against infection, begins to decline after a few months, so it’s a good idea to get a buter (or a second booster if you have one).

If you have previously been hospitalized with COVID and then received two mRNA vaccines, this combination of protection was 35% effective in preventing subsequent hospitalizations in the first omicron wave. If you have a stimulant, that number has risen to 68% of hospitalizations.

No vaccine is ideal, so continuing to take precautions – wearing a mask, testing if you have symptoms or having COVID, improving ventilation, etc. – is still recommended, especially during the current wave in the United States.

Can multiple infections with COVID lead to long-term results?

The long-term harm of recurrent infections, such as organ damage, is “a big problem and I haven’t seen any information to address it,” Pulliam said.

Experts believe that every case of COVID, even if the last one is good, can lead to long-lasting COVID.

According to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five adults has “chronic symptoms or organ dysfunction,” including acute cases of COVID related to their health.

“Some people seem to have a risk of prolonged COVID or symptoms after resolving an acute infection, and we don’t know how common it is or how long it lasts,” Lemie says.

How do I deal with emerging and changing information about the risk of re-infection?

“It’s really sad because I think everyone wants to get sick with this virus, but we don’t. And we’re living in an age where we want to get the full information at our fingertips, but we don’t have that,” Lemierre said.

This means that we need to be vigilant about changes in each new option and how we respond to it – especially in the age of re-infection.

Precautions used to prevent infection – masks, distance protection, vaccinations, etc. – work in the same way as to prevent re-infection.

Another thing to keep in mind is that reinfection is not uncommon for coronaviruses. “I don’t think it’s surprising to have a re-infection, because that’s a feature of the biology of the coronavirus,” Lemierre said. “In fact, surprisingly, these are not common in the original versions.”

Melody Schreiber (@m_scribe) is a journalist and editor What we didn’t expect: Personal stories about preterm birth.

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