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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “after recovering from COVID, most individuals will have some protection from repeat infections.”
“However, reinfections do occur after COVID-19,” the CDC states, adding that changes and mutations “can lead to the emergence of variants that can increase the risk of reinfection.”
Last month, Chicago’s top doctor said experts were seeing changes in immunity from infection, noticing more breakthrough infections and natural immunity not lasting.
“So we know that when somebody has had COVID, it’s as much about how recently they’ve had it in some ways, because we are still seeing pretty good protection if somebody had one version of omicron,” Arwady said. “But we are starting to see, as omicron has continued to evolve, we’re starting to see some more people who had original omicron even in December, even getting some of these these new subvariants of omicron.”
BA.4 and BA.5 are among those subvariants, or sublineages, of the omicron COVID variant, with the CDC also tracking BA.2.12.1, BA.2, B.1.1.529 and BA 1.1, among others.
And while BA.2.12.1 makes up a majority of cases across the country and in Illinois and Chicago still, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told NBC News BA.4 and BA.5 will likely be dominant in the U.S. by the end of the summer or early fall.
This genetic change is bad news for people who caught the original omicron and thought that made them unlikely to get COVID again soon.
Delaying The Second Booster Shot Is Ok
The second booster shot is available for immunocompromised individuals and people ages 50 and above who got their first booster dose at least four months ago. If you are eligible to get your second booster dose but you recently got infected with Omicron, you can choose to get the shot as soon as youve fully recovered.
But its alright if you dont want to get the shot right away. For instance, you might want to get the immunity boost closer to an upcoming indoor event or overseas trip.
Although there are no firm guidelines on the timing of a second booster shot for an individual who was fully vaccinated and boosted and then infected with Omicron, it is best to wait, Moss said.
Delaying the shot allows eligible individuals to get the second booster when the antibody levels are likely waning. The infection will be providing excellent protection, so the booster dose isnt necessarily urgent, Weiss said.
Historical data on other infectious agents had suggested waiting two to four weeks after a viral infection before getting a viral vaccine since the immune system is ramped up and the protection from the vaccine is likely to be less effective, he added. So, a short wait is prudent. Id recommend getting the second booster at about five months after the first booster.
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He told the BBC on November 3: I think, on first principles, its quite likely that the third dose that you get, the booster dose, is likely to last a bit longer than the protection that we have from the first two doses, which is now starting to wane.
But I cant give you a straight answer to that because the truth of the matter is this is a new disease, we are still learning about it, we are still learning about how long these vaccines will last for after the third dose.
And we have to wait for those data before we can give you absolutely emphatic answers.
Research looking at the strength of immunity after vaccine doses only looks at antibodies.
But there are other parts of the immune system that are thought to be potent and last much longer.
After antibody levels fall, a small percentage of B and T-cells will stick around as memory cells. These can live for months, years and sometimes even decades.
Exactly how long they last after a Covid vaccine is not known because it has only been one year since the jabs started being rolled out.
But studies – and vaccine manufacturers – have claimed T-cell responses are strong and may be working to protect the elderly and vulnerable even when their antibodies dip.
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Covid Vaccine Plus Infection Can Lead To Months Of Immunity
A health-care worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Credit: Andres Borges/Bloomberg/Getty
Even people who have had COVID-19 receive long-lasting benefits from a full course of vaccination, according to three recent studies. What’s more, one of the studies found that the hybrid immunity caused by vaccination and infection is long-lasting, conferring highly effective protection against symptomatic disease for at least six to eight months after vaccination.
The data were collected before the Omicron variant emerged, casting some doubt on the studies relevance today. But if the findings hold up, they could inform vaccination schemes and vaccine passports, which some countries require for entry to places such as restaurants. The work also counters high-profile claims that people who have had COVID-19 dont benefit from vaccination.
Just such a claim helped to launch some of the research. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that he already had COVID-19, and for this reason, it is not necessary to take a vaccination, says Julio Croda, an infectious-disease doctor and epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Croda and his colleagues drew on Brazilian vaccination and infection databases to test such assertions.
What Social Science Research Is Seronet Doing
Dr. Klemm: In addition to supporting basic science research around COVID-19 serology, SeroNet also supports social science research, with a focus on engaging groups of people who might have some hesitancy about vaccination or participation in COVID-19 research.
We have a team at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester that is using a storytelling approach to help communicate the importance of participation in COVID-19 research. Another team, at the University of Arkansas, has developed a tool for evaluating the various reasons why someone might be concerned about COVID-19 vaccines. Arkansas has relatively low vaccine uptake right now. So, theyre using the tool to study vaccine hesitancy in different social and ethnic groups, and theyre getting a more comprehensive view of this very complicated question of vaccine hesitancy.
Dr. Finstad: And whats great is that a number of the other SeroNet investigators said, Can we use that tool too? And the Arkansas team said, Absolutely! So, the network enables rapid dissemination of research and tools so that other scientists can quickly adopt them.
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How Long Does Vaccine
Some vaccine-induced immunity lasts for a long time and some does not. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines, theres concern about how long that protection lasts. With a rise in breakthrough infections , experts are debating whether booster doses are needed. In fact, Pfizer vaccine booster doses were for certain people in September 2021. More on this below.
Recent research suggests that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines protection fades over time. One study that looked at Pfizers Comirnaty vaccine found that protection levels started to drop 6 months after receiving the second shot. This waning protection was more pronounced in older adults.
However, COVID-19 vaccines still effectively prevent severe cases of COVID-19 even after this 6-month window. Overall, Pfizers vaccine was found to be around 91% effective 7 days to 6 months following the second shot. Meanwhile, a recent press release from Moderna reported a vaccine efficacy of about 93%. This stayed more or less the same about 6 months following the second shot.
Because of this, only certain people are recommended to get a Comirnaty booster shot at least 6 months after receiving their second dose:
Adults at a high risk of severe COVID-19 infections
People over age 65
People who work or live in a high-risk COVID-19 environment
How Long After Covid Are You Immune Heres How Immunity From Infection Compares To Getting The Vaccine
However, the level of protection and how long it lasts differs from person to person.
Researchers are also looking into whether some people have a natural immunity to Covid-19 even without having had the virus.
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What Should A Person Who Recovered From Covid
The following applies to a person who has clinically recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection that was confirmed with a viral diagnostic test and then, within 3 months since the date of symptom onset of the previous illness episode , is identified as a contact of a new case. If the person remains asymptomatic since the new exposure, then they do not need to be retested for SARS-CoV-2 and do not need to be quarantined. However, if the person experiences new symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and an evaluation fails to identify a diagnosis other than SARS-CoV-2 infection , then repeat viral diagnostic testing may be warranted, in consultation with an infectious disease specialist and public health authorities for isolation guidance.
The Role Of Antibodies And Killer T Cells
Upon vaccination or infection with COVID-19, your body produces two types of protective immune responses. The first type involves B cells, which produce antibodies.
Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that form the first line of defense against an infection or perceived invader, such as a vaccine. Much like a lock and key, antibodies can directly bind to a virus or to the spike protein of COVID-19, in the case of the mRNA vaccines and prevent it from gaining entry into cells. However, once a virus successfully enters the cells, antibodies are no longer effective. The virus begins replicating in the infected cells and spreading to other cells.
This is when the immune system calls into action another type of immune cell known as killer T cells, which act as the second line of defense.
Unlike antibodies, killer T cells cannot directly see the virus and thus cannot prevent a virus from entering cells. However, the killer T cells can recognize a virus-infected cell and immediately destroy the cell before the virus gets a chance to replicate. In this way, killer T cells can help prevent a virus from multiplying and spreading.
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What Is Natural Immunity
Natural immunity is the antibody protection your body creates against a germ once youve been infected with it. Natural immunity varies according to the person and the germ. For example, people who have had the measles are not likely to get it again, but this is not the case for every disease. A mild case of an illness may not result in strong natural immunity. New studies show that natural immunity to the coronavirus weakens over time, and does so faster than immunity provided by COVID-19 vaccination.
Can You Get Coronavirus Twice
There is currently no conclusive evidence that points to how long coronavirus immunity lasts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there have been recorded cases of coronavirus reinfection.
Scientists continue to study the duration of coronavirus immunity and how likely a person is to get COVID-19 twice. Because of these unknowns, the CDC recommends always adhering to coronavirus prevention measures, including vaccination and masking, even if you’ve been infected before.
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Shall I Get My Booster
Yes – it may be the only shot at a normal Christmas.
You may be feeling confused about why you need to get yet another vaccine dose, if scientists said the first two worked so well.
There is a new Covid variant that has prompted a huge booster campaign.
Early indications are that this variant, called Omicron, may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines, which were designed against the first Covid strain from Wuhan.
It means that in order to get the best protection against it, immunity levels need to be high.
Speaking of the importance of boosters, Deborah Dunn-Walters, professor of Immunology, University of Surrey & Chair of the British Society for Immunology COVID-19 and Immunology taskforce, said: Until the answers to these questions are known it is sensible to increase protective measures where we can.
Since we know that immunity does wane to some extent, and that boosters can increase immunity, then accelerating the booster program will protect more people.”
Immunity After Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
In the initial clinical trial studies for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
Partial immunity started to develop 2 weeks after the shot, and full immunity was reached about 28 days after the shot, for an overall effectiveness of preventing 66.1% cases of moderate to severe COVID-19 .
Additional studies are still providing more information about immunity after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For example, some initial studies showed that the immune response may even continue to rise after 28 days.
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Effectiveness Against New Strains
The COVID-19 virus has changed over time due to mutations that result in a different strain of the virus. This is common for viruses, but some changes have greater impact than others. They may spread more rapidly, cause more or less serious illness, or fail to respond to the existing vaccines.
The CDC will classify some strains as a “variant of concern” when they have the potential for this greater impact. As of December 2021, there were two variants of concern in the U.S. They were:
- Omicron first identified in Botswana and South Africa
- Delta first identified in India
What If Im Vaccinated And Had Covid
If youve recovered from COVID-19 and gotten a COVID-19 vaccine, you have whats known as hybrid immunity.Studies suggest this type of protection is better than either vaccination or exposure alone, because you benefit from both natural and vaccine-derived defenses.
The best immunity, no question in my mind, is hybrid immunity, Farber says.
Of course, you should never try to catch COVID-19 for the sake of gaining hybrid immunity. While its very unusual for someone who is vaccinated and generally healthy to have a severe case of COVID-19, complications can happen. People have gotten Long COVID even when theyre fully vaccinated and experience few symptoms, for example.
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What Can Antibody Studies Tell Us About How The Coronavirus Spread Last Year And About Herd Immunity
Dr. Klemm: Antibody studies can help paint a picture of the dynamics of the pandemic. With an antibody test, we can see if someone was previously infected with the virus, even if they didnt know it at the time. And if we do that on a large scale, we can find out the percentage of people who were infected during a certain time periodthats called the seroprevalence.
So, for example, the Serology Lab at the Frederick National Lab studied blood samples that had been previously collected from 24,000 participants of NIHs All of Us Research Program. And they found signs of SARS-CoV-2 infections in 5 different states as far back as January 2020.
Samantha Finstad, Ph.D., leader of NCI’s SeroNet
Along similar lines, a SeroNet team in New York Citywhere one of the first COVID-19 cases in the United States was founddid serology testing of blood samples from 10,000 people who had visited the hospital from February to April of 2020. And they found evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was circulating in New York City by mid-February 2020earlier than originally reported.
Serology studies have also confirmed disparities in the spread of COVID-19. A study of North Carolina residents from April to October of 2020 found that people who are Latinx, Black, or who lacked health insurance had the highest odds of getting COVID-19. Racial differences in COVID-19 infection rates have been attributed to underlying inequalities in areas such as housing and access to health care.
How Long Will My Immunity Last After Getting Covid
Before Omicron, reinfections were rare. A team of scientists, led by Laith Abu-Raddad at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar, estimated that a bout with Delta or an earlier coronavirus strain was roughly 90 percent effective in preventing a reinfection in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. But Omicron really changed that calculus, said Dr. Abu-Raddad, an infectious disease epidemiologist.
After Omicron emerged, prior infections only provided about 50 percent protection against reinfection, Dr. Abu-Raddads study showed. The coronavirus had acquired so many mutations in its spike protein that newer versions became more transmissible and better able to evade immunity. That means you can catch a version of Omicron after recovering from an older, non-Omicron variant. You can even get sick with one of the newer Omicron subvariants after getting over a different version of it.
For now, you should treat any new symptoms, including a fever, sore throat, runny nose or change in taste or smell, as a potential case of Covid, and get tested to confirm if you are positive again.
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Less Mystery More Biochemistry
Vitamin C is not just a nice-to-have that is mainly important for the old, the sick and vegans. On the contrary, its biochemical functions are the same and equally important in every body. Vitamin C is one of the micronutrients that, although they do not provide the body with energy, are essential for its basic functions. These include cell metabolism and our defense system.
Vitamin C: Good for the immune system and for fighting infections