How Many Times Can I Get Reinfected With COVID-19?

Key Takeaways

  • If you had been contaminated with COVID-19 as soon as, it’s potential to get reinfected with new and rising variants of the virus. In truth, specialists say it’s potential to get reinfected with COVID-19 a number of instances in a yr. 
  • Reinfections are more likely to be milder and fewer extreme than prior infections due to larger ranges of immunity from vaccines or an preliminary an infection. 
  • Older adults, people who find themselves immunocompromised, folks with underlying well being circumstances, and teams who can’t mount a powerful immune response might be extra susceptible to reinfection.
  • Wearing a masks, staying up-to-date on vaccinations, social distancing, and spending time outdoor can doubtlessly assist forestall COVID-19 reinfection.

Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 now make up almost 21% of recent COVID-19 instances within the United States, based on estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As new COVID-19 strains emerge, infectious illness specialists say that reinfections and breakthrough COVID-19 infections will grow to be more and more regular.

Here’s the whole lot well being specialists need you to learn about COVID-19 reinfections. 

Will COVID-19 Reinfection Become the Norm?

The U.S. presently shouldn’t be monitoring COVID-19 reinfections, however Kelly Gebo, MD, MPH, a professor of drugs at Johns Hopkins Medicine with experience in COVID-19 and epidemiology, informed Verywell that she believes folks can get contaminated with COVID-19 greater than every year.

In truth, getting contaminated with COVID-19 might grow to be a seasonal prevalence, like catching the flu or the frequent chilly.

Kelly Gebo, MD, MPH

We’re going to see reinfections occurring and folks’s immunity will wane similar to we see with different forms of viral infections.

— Kelly Gebo, MD, MPH

“It’s likely that almost all of us are going to become infected at some point with the virus because there are new variants that develop,” stated Gebo. “We’re going to see reinfections happening and people’s immunity will wane just like we see with other types of viral infections.” 

How extreme these reinfections will likely be are unknown right now, Julie Parsonnet, MD, a professor of epidemiology and inhabitants well being at Stanford University, informed Verywell.

“They might grow to be increasingly gentle,” said Parsonnet. “Or, just like the flu, they might fluctuate from surge to surge.”

Can I Get COVID-19 Again If I’m Vaccinated and Boosted?

According to Scott Weisenberg, MD, a scientific affiliate professor of drugs at NYU Grossman School of Medicine and the director of the journey medication program, it is potential to get reinfected with COVID-19 even for those who’ve already examined constructive for and recovered from the virus as soon as. It’s additionally potential to get COVID-19 for those who’re updated in your vaccines and boosters.

“Since Omicron and all the new variants after, reinfections have become more common despite people’s prior infection status or vaccination,” stated Weisenberg. “While they’re still protected against severe disease from vaccines and boosters, they don’t have as much protection that lasts as long against reinfections.”

Since viruses—together with COVID-19— are consistently altering, new strains can enhance an individual’s danger of reinfection. Parsonnet factors to Omicron, the present virus pressure, which is ready to evade each vaccines and pure immunity as time passes, just like different coronaviruses.

When you mix evolving strains with pure immunity or immunity from vaccines waning over time, Gebo stated, seeing instances of reinfection is predicted.

“We’re learning with Omicron that immunity wanes, so as people move further away from their vaccine or booster, their immunity to the virus goes down as well,” stated Gebo. “Some people also feel that the pandemic is over or would like to think it’s over and there’s a lot less masking and social distancing and so people are becoming exposed on a much more regular basis.”

How Many Times Can I Get Reinfected? 

It’s not potential to say precisely what number of instances an individual can get reinfected with COVID-19, however specialists agree there’s no restrict. Reinfection can even happen greater than as soon as per yr. 

Julia Parsonnet, MD

We don’t know whether or not these reinfections will likely be very gentle or whether or not they may have the capability to trigger extreme sickness.

— Julia Parsonnet, MD

Gebo stated if the COVID-19 virus continues to mutate and alter, folks can proceed to get uncovered to new variants and get contaminated once more.

“There’s been some hypothesis that the virus is mutating on roughly each four- to six-month foundation,” said Gebo. “And so it’s potential you possibly can grow to be reinfected a number of instances inside a yr.”

However, Weisenberg stated that whether or not an individual will get reinfected relies on a couple of components, together with the power of their immune response (particularly from earlier infections by totally different variants) and whether or not they’re updated on vaccinations.

“We don’t know whether these reinfections will be very mild or whether they will have the capacity to cause severe illness,” Parsonnet stated. “It simply depends on how virulent the strains are and the development of new vaccines.”

How Long Will Immunity Last After Infection? 

According to the CDC, the immune response following a COVID-19 an infection ought to proceed to supply a minimum of 50% safety in opposition to reinfection for one to 2 years following the preliminary an infection or vaccination.

Weisenberg stated whereas the CDC’s knowledge and different observational research have instructed that pure immunity will assist shield folks in opposition to COVID-19 reinfection for a minimum of six months, that timeframe relies on what new and future variants will seem like.

“I don’t think you can get reinfected in 30 days and I think it’s unlikely in two months, but we don’t know anything for sure,” stated Gebo. “With each variant, it seems to be a little bit different.” 

Immunity length additionally varies from individual to individual. For instance, Gebo stated that an individual who’s immunosuppressed is likely to be extra more likely to be contaminated a number of instances as a result of their physique can’t mount a powerful response. 

Will My Symptoms Be Mild or Worse If I’m Reinfected?

Gebo stated that instances of reinfections are more likely to be milder or much less extreme than a previous an infection on account of vaccinations and better ranges of immunity from earlier infections.

“If you are vaccinated and have an infection, you tend to have fewer symptoms than people who are unvaccinated and have had symptoms,” Gebo stated.

However, Weisenberg stated that some folks might expertise signs which can be extra extreme the second, third, and even fourth time round. Those instances are depending on variables corresponding to what variant they obtained, the quantity of virus they had been uncovered to, how immune they had been to a specific variant when uncovered, if immunity in opposition to COVID has waned, and their well being at that time limit.

Weisenberg emphasised that vaccines stay one of the vital efficient instruments to stop extreme illness, hospitalizations, and loss of life.

Will I Get Long COVID If I’m Reinfected? 

At this time, there’s not sufficient proof to say whether or not or not reinfection results in lengthy COVID—signs that persist for weeks or months after recovering from an preliminary an infection. 

“We’re nonetheless studying about lengthy COVID and the way reinfection might have an effect,” said Gebo. “That’s not one thing we are able to undoubtedly reply proper now, particularly for those who’re much less or extra more likely to develop that.”

Are Some People More Likely to Get Reinfected? 

The CDC presently doesn’t monitor instances of reinfection or the populations most affected. But Gebo stated there are specific teams of people who find themselves extra prone to reinfection, together with older adults, individuals who have continual medical circumstances corresponding to sickle cell illness or coronary heart illness, folks with different underlying well being circumstances, and people who find themselves unable to mount an immune response to the vaccine.

How Can I Avoid Reinfection? 

To keep away from reinfection, specialists advocate that individuals proceed to take the identical steps they have been taking all through the pandemic:

  • Wear a masks indoors, in crowded areas, and in communities the place COVID-19 charges are excessive 
  • Spend as a lot time outdoor as potential
  • Social distance once you’re round others
  • Wash your arms incessantly and correctly
  • Minimize social interplay, particularly with people who find themselves at excessive danger of being contaminated
  • Test for COVID-19 earlier than visiting family and friends and earlier than journey
  • Get vaccinated and boosted, if eligible and in a position
  • Continue to comply with and hearken to public well being suggestions 

What This Means For You

Getting reinfected with COVID-19 is feasible—even for those who’ve been vaccinated. Experts say that it is potential folks will get reinfected with new variants of the virus greater than every year. That stated, specialists additionally emphasize that masking and getting vaccinated will help forestall reinfection. 

The data on this article is present as of the date listed, which implies newer data could also be out there once you learn this. For the newest updates on COVID-19, go to our coronavirus information web page.

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