I am Vaccinated and Boosted and Still Got COVID. Can I Get re-infected? If so, How many times?
Summer Travel - How do I travel safely These days?
Number one and two, and three: Get fully vaccinated and Boosted!
Undoubtedly, it is the first step toward travel safety, and the next BIG step for safety is to continue following all precautionary measures. Although the CDC has endorsed domestic traveling again, it still recommends following the standard protective protocols: wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and avoiding crowds.
Why Are People Getting Re-infected even When Vaccinated?
Although in the early days of the pandemic, COVID reinfection was relatively rare, that is no longer true today. Even one and half years after the start of the pandemic, in 2021, data shows that breakthrough infections in vaccinated India, although possible, the risk was low.
But everything has changed in 2022 due to the ever-emerging variants whose primary goal is to spread themselves among the population. They accomplish their goal by dodging the antibodies acquired through getting the virus (active immunity) or vaccination (secondary immunity). Reinfections and breakthrough infections appear to have become the new normal.
Given that currently, the United States isn't tracking COVID reinfections, the available data on reinfection comes from the United Kingdom, which has been tracking reinfections for the past two years. Their research has reported an eight times higher risk of reinfection during the latest omicron wave than in last year's delta wave.
"I would not be surprised if we see people get infected more than once per year." -Anthony Fauci
Dr. Fauci, for example, who has received 4 shots of the vaccine so far, including 2 boosters, has tested positive for the virus. The common belief among researchers across the globe is that eventually, COVID will become a seasonal disease, similar to the flu. But until that happens, we are bound to see more variants, especially as some folks who refuse to be vaccinated because "if the vaccine really worked, no one would get re-infected.
We know that his "rationale' is not only a public health nightmare but also dangerous to themselves. Cold vaccines were never meant to stop one from being infected with the virus; instead, their primary function is to decrease the severity of symptoms and hence mortality.
Reinfections are still possible for everyone.
But, I do not recommend relaxing our guards just because reinfection can occur. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and wearing a mask when in for or taking a flight still minimizes risk. As per Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology at Yale University, "Reinfections, unfortunately, are not unusual for coronavirus. it's just the nature of this virus infection." As per Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology at Yale University,
"Reinfections, unfortunately, are not unusual for coronavirus. it's just the nature of this virus infection."
Coronaviruses are not unique in causing reinfections; other types of viruses can also re-infect; however, when reinfection occurs with other viruses, there is usually 2-3 years between the initial infection and reinfection. In other words, the COVID -19 virus and its mutations are a genius at evading existing immunity. Combined with the fact that immunity naturally wanes over time has led to our current state of the pandemic, where more and more reinfection is occurring.
That's especially true for people infected with the original omicron variant, AKA BA.1. The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants — the most common source of infection currently in the United are significantly different from BA.1. Having had a past omicron infection with other Omicron variants does not protect you from subsequent subvariants.
How many times can one be re-infected?
According to the currently available data, that's an impossible question to answer. But given the current surge of infections, anyone is at risk of being exposed to someone contagious and thus becoming re-infected. Reinfection should therefore be considered the new normal.
How long does COVID immunity last after infection?
To date, no studies in the United States have shown whether a person is less susceptible to reinfection in the weeks after infection. However, observational studies and experience from other countries have shown there's likely enough acquired immunity for a few months after the initial infection before immunity wanes. But, don't count on it; reinfection in a shorter period is also possible.
"Anecdotally, someone previously infected can get re-infected four weeks later ."Anthony Fauci, MD
Will my symptoms be milder or worse if I Get Re-infected?
If you get re-infected, your symptoms will likely be mild, especially if you are vaccinated due to higher immunity levels. Such symptoms will likely be similar to a cold or flu if you are boosted because prior infection and vaccination-induced immunity protect against severe disease."
However, viral load, that is, the amount of virus present in the person from whom you got the virus is very relevant regarding reinfection. If one is exposed to a higher amount of virus than the first infection, or if a person's immunity against COVID has waned, the risk of getting sicker is much higher.
Also, people with underlying conditions or immunocompromised individuals, though vaccinated, may not be as protected against severe disease, even after the prior infection. However, viral load, that is, the amount of virus present in the person from whom you got the virus, is very relevant regarding reinfection.
If one is exposed to a higher amount of virus than the first infection, or if a person's immunity against COVID has waned, the risk of getting sicker is much higher. Also, individuals with people with underlying conditions or immunocompromised individuals, though vaccinated, may not be as protected against severe disease, even after prior infection.
Are certain people more vulnerable to reinfection?
The British equivalent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health England, has regularly tracked reinfections since the pandemic's beginning. In its most recent analysis, from mid-May, they reported that people who were unvaccinated, younger or had a mild infection where lower viral load had been detected were likely to be re-infected. This is because those with more severe infections tend to develop a more robust immune response to the virus.
How about Long COVID; Am I more likely to develop It if I get re-infected?
According to the CDC, there's no evidence that a repeat infection is more likely to lead to long COVID or lingering symptoms after infection. But while it's unlikely that multiple infections can increase the risk for long COVID, studies are needed to validate this scientific belief.
However, researchers believe that from an Immunological perspective, it's unlikely that long COVID can be developed after a second or third infection due to some immune responses.
The Best Ways to Protect Yourself and Do you Part for the Sake of Public Health Concerns:
- Get Educated
- Listen to the Experts
- Get vaccinated
- Get Boosted, if your eligible
- Wear a make when in crowded places
- Wear a mask in airports and airplanes (N95 masks are best when traveling)
- Boost Your immune System (Bottom Line of COVID Supplements)
- Project your Gut ( Gut-brain booklet)
- Do a detox Program (AkashaReset.com)
About the Author:
Edison de Mello MD, Ph.D. - Founder and Chief Medical Officer of the Akasha Center for integrative Medicine is a board-certified integrative physician with over 25 years of experience in the field of Integrative Medicine. Dr. de Mello has been in the front lines helping fight COVID since the beginning of the pandemic. His recent book, BLOATED? Outlines Dr. de Mello's approach to medical care. With his signature approach, "I meet my patients before I meet their diseases," Dr. de Mello has helped thousands of patients across the globe.