Vaccine Protection Is Stronger Than Natural Infection
Previous research suggests that immunity achieved through vaccination can offer stronger and more long-lasting protection compared to natural infection.
However, both natural immunity and vaccines dont protect people against viruses over the long term, according to Townsend. While waning is a small factor, it has more to deal with the fact that viruses evolve constantly.
Its not just because your immunity wanes, its really because the organism that youre vaccinated against evolves and becomes a different organism, Townsend says.
For COVID-19, the virus evolves quickly at the end of the spike protein. That protein has a very particular structure that makes it so a few changes can apparently change its structure a lot, Townsend explains. For that reason, it can evolve to a stage where our previous immunity doesnt suffice to target it.
For example, because the flu evolves quickly, there is a need for yearly shots. We get that vaccine every single year,” Townsend says. “The bottom line is that viruses that infect us need to be able to continue to infect us to persist in the human population.”
Because of COVID-19s constant evolution, it makes it more difficult to garner 100% immunity, underscoring the best defense against getting severe illness: vaccines and booster shots.
Why Do I Need A Covid Booster
Boosters are needed because the potency of the vaccines wane over time. Decreasing antibodies isn’t unique to the COVID vaccines, Priest said. Take the flu shot, for example, which people are encouraged to get each year.
“What a booster does is increase the amount of neutralizing antibodies, making it less likely that someone would have a serious illness that results in hospitalization or worse,” Priest said. Data shows people who are 65 and older need a booster more than any other group, he added.
The small number of people who are vaccinated and have to be admitted to the hospital are generally over the age of 65. They were vaccinated early in the pandemic and often have other medical issues,” Priest said.
People who are profoundly immunosuppressed are also strongly encouraged to get a booster. If youve had an organ transplant, are receiving chemotherapy or living with uncontrolled HIV, the booster is even more important because you generally dont respond to vaccines in the same way, Priest said.
Here is the latest on who qualifies for a booster and how to get one.
Looking After Your Mental And Physical Wellbeing While Staying At Home
Staying at home and self-isolating for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people and you or other household members may feel low. It can be particularly challenging if you do not have much space or access to a garden.
Remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it.
Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice to take better care of your mental health, including a COVID-19 hub with advice for those staying at home.
Many people find it helpful to remind themselves why what they are doing is so important. By staying at home, you are helping to protect your friends and family, other people in your community and the NHS.
Things that you can do to help make staying at home easier:
If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, seek immediate advice and assessment. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent mental health support is available to adults and children around the clock. Find your local NHS helpline by searching for your postcode or home town in a new service finder.
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Experts Believe Reinfection Is Possible With Omicron
The initial research published on reinfection came out in a pretty different context, when new variants were more of a hypothetical than a daily reality. Since then, alpha, delta and now omicron have transformed the pandemic.
Omicron, in particular, is different than the rest. It has more mutations than delta and its more transmissible. Anthony Fauci, the nations top infectious disease doctor, has said that omicron is very different from previous strains.
So it is not necessarily surprising that initial reports from the United Kingdom suggest there has been a three– to eight-fold increase in reinfection from the omicron variant as compared to other variants though those reports are preliminary.
There is still no data regarding protection for omicron after natural infection with prior strains, Carla Garcia Carreño, chief of infectious disease at Childrens Medical Center Plano, told HuffPost.What makes omicron very contagious are the changes in the spike protein of the virus, the part of the virus that binds human cells before infecting them. These mutations or changes make the virus very sticky, so it attaches to cells easier with increased transmissibility.
Of course, not every COVID lab test is sent for genetic sequencing to determine what variant a person has and many people are now using rapid antigen tests at home. Still, given omicrons dominance at the moment, its safe to assume thats the variant youve got if youre infected right now, Carreño said.
What Is An Antigen Test What Is A Pcr Test
Most self-tests are rapid antigen tests, which can detect the virus when a person is infectious and likely to pass it to others. The tests detect a viral protein on the surface of the coronavirus.
A negative antigen test, however, should be “presumptive” in most cases, the CDC says, and may require additional confirmation. Antigen tests work best when a person’s viral load is highest, meaning a test early on in an infection or at a later stage may lead to a negative result, according to the CDC. If someone receives a negative antigen test early on an infection, they may be contagious later and would test positive.
Molecular PCR tests are more sensitive and can detect traces of the virus over a longer period during the course of an infection. They are part of a larger class of tests called nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAATs. Though some PCR tests can be performed at home, most are administered at clinics, doctors offices, hospitals or large-scale testing sites.
PCR tests and other NAATs may remain positive for weeks to months after an infection when a person is no longer contagious, according to the CDC. They remain the “gold standard” for diagnosis, the CDC says.
Omicron and rapid tests: Here’s what you need to know
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What If You Test Positive Using An At
Those who test positive using an at-home test are asked to follow the latest CDC guidelines and communicate the results to their healthcare provider, who is responsible for reporting test results to the state health department.
Health experts say people should assume the test results are accurate and should isolate from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Yes You Can Get Covid
- Researchers have found that a man contracted the new coronavirus a second time months after his original illness.
- The case suggests reinfection can occur a few months after recovering from an initial bout of COVID-19.
- However, it appears his immune system protected the man from serious symptoms.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 33-year-old man in Hong Kong contracted the new coronavirus a second time just 4 1/2 months after recovering from his first infection.
Though anecdotal stories about potential reinfection have recently been circulating, this is the first documented case of reinfection with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19.
Researchers from the University of Hong Kong sequenced the virus and determined that the virus behind the mans first infection was a different variant than what triggered the second infection.
The case suggests reinfection can occur a few months after recovering from an initial bout of COVID-19.
Health experts agree, though, that much more research is needed to determine how common reinfections could be.
The findings were released in a press release this week. Pages from the study, which has been accepted by the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases but not yet been peer reviewed or published, are .
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What Should I Do If Multiple People I Live With Test Positive For Covid
Recommendations for this situation depend on vaccination status:
- When multiple members of the household become infected at different times and the people with COVID-19 cant isolate from other members of the household, close contacts who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated should
- Quarantine throughout the isolation period of any infected person in the household.
- Continue to quarantine until 14 days after the end of isolation date for the most recently infected member of the household. For example, if the last day of isolation of the person most recently infected with COVID-19 was June 30, the new 14-day quarantine period starts on July 1.
- Get tested 5-7 days after the end of isolation for the most recently infected member of the household.
- Wear a mask when in contact with any person with COVID-19 while that person is in isolation.
- Wear a mask when in contact with other people in the home until quarantine ends.
- Isolate immediately if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive.
Why Do Some People Test Positive Again
There are reports from different countries of people hospitalised with COVID-19 who tested negative when they were discharged, before testing positive again.
However, a study from China found those who retested positive didnt get any sicker. This suggests these people were intermittently shedding the virus and were at the tail end of their original illness, rather than getting a new COVID-19 infection.
The nasal and throat swab test being used to detect the virus also cant say whether the virus is alive or not therefore, they could have just been shedding dead virus. This could explain why their close contacts didnt become sick or test positive.
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What About Herd Immunity
Typically, a disease can be eradicated when most of a population is immune to it a concept called herd immunity.
But Neuman says most scientists in the coronavirus field have felt as though herd immunity may not be possible with this new coronavirus.
If people lose their protective antibodies in just a few months, herd immunity may be near impossible to achieve no matter the number of people who have had a SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to Neuman.
But there are many factors at play, and antibodies alone wont determine a persons ability to fight off a subsequent infection.
all depends upon how contagious a person is with a second infection, and, if second infections are all mild, it does decrease the risk of severe disease occurring once the population has been exposed, Adalja said.
As is the case with all things coronavirus and COVID-19, more time and research is needed to understand the threat of reinfection and its impact on a vaccine and herd immunity.
Given that this virus hasnt been around even a whole year yet in the world, we are learning quite a bit very quickly, Maldonado said.
You May Be Able To Shorten Your Quarantine
Your local public health authorities make the final decisions about how long quarantine should last, based on local conditions and needs. Follow the recommendations of your local public health department if you need to quarantine. Options they will consider include stopping quarantine
- After day 10 without testing
- After day 7 after receiving a negative test result
In areas using options to reduce quarantine times, people who are asymptomatic can use a negative test result collected on day five after exposure to exit quarantine on day seven , with additional self-monitoring. The day of exposure is considered day zero .
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How Long Should You Quarantine Or Isolate
First things first, those who believe they have been in contact with someone who has COVID and are unvaccinated should quarantine. Those who test positive, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Massachusetts General Hospital’s Dr. Ali Raja said he talks to his patients all the time about the difference between isolation and quarantine.
“Quarantine sounds a lot scarier,” he said. “It’s actually when you have been exposed and either aren’t fully vaccinated or you’re not vaccinated at all. You stay home even if you don’t have the virus. Isolation is when you’ve actually tested positive regardless of whether you had symptoms.”
“For either one you stay away from people, stay home for five days, and ideally test negative before coming out of it,” he added.
Here’s more on the differences between the two:
Those who have been within six feet of someone with COVID for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period should quarantine for five days if unvaccinated, or if they are more than six months out from their second vaccine dose, according to updated CDC guidance issued Monday.
Once that period ends, they should partake in strict mask use for an additional five days.
Previously, the CDC said people who were not fully vaccinated and who came in close contact with an infected person should stay home for at least 10 days.
So how do you calculate your isolation period?
How Many Cases Of Reinfection Have There Been
The first confirmed case of reinfection came in August 2020, when a 33-year-old man tested positive for the second time, after first getting a positive test in March.
There have been 31 confirmed cases of reinfection around the world, however there could be many more that havent been officially reported or confirmed.
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What To Do If You Test Positive For Covid
The rising number of cases has led to a slew of questions about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, including what to do if you test positive for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a possible exposure to COVID-19 or if they test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
In general, the CDC recommends people isolate for at least five days after they test positive. If after day five their symptoms are improving or they have remained asymptomatic, they can leave isolation and wear a mask around others, the CDC says.
Boosted and recently vaccinated people do not need to stay at home if they are possibly exposed to the coronavirus but should wear a mask for 10 days. People who are unvaccinated or have gone more than six months since receiving an mRNA vaccine or two months since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should stay at home for at least five days and then wear a mask around others for five additional days, the CDC says.
But the new guidance has led some to criticize the CDC. Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said the guidelines come amid changing understanding of the virus’s transmissibility and the rise in omicron cases. We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science, she said Dec. 27.
Exactly How Long Covid
DiGiallorenzo is right to say its somewhat of a guessing game. Researchers dont know why some people are testing positive for longer than others and theyre scrambling to figure out if those prolonged positive test results mean people are still contagious.
A recent study out of Beijing examined 16 patients with COVID-19 and found that half continued to test positive even after their symptoms, such as cough and fever, ended. Those patients had markers of shedding, indicating they could still spread the disease for up to eight days after they recovered.
Two other studies from Wuhan, China, found similar evidence, suggesting that people are still contagious after theyve clinically recovered. On average, people with COVID-19 shed or emit the virus for 20 days, with some shedding it for up to 37 days.
One of the major obstacles thats prevented us from gathering more evidence on how long the virus sheds is the ongoing lack of widespread testing. In the United States, we barely have enough tests to evaluate those who are presenting symptoms for the first time, let alone people who are coming back for a second test. DiGiallorenzos experience is rare.
Because there is currently a shortage of tests, testing post-symptomatic people may not be a priority for their use, said Ben Singer, a pulmonologist and assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
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Am I Free To Leave Quarantine After Five Days If I Take A Covid
The CDC guidance says you should wear a mask around others for 10 days if you’ve had a possible exposure.
While on “Colbert,” Walensky addressed the question of how to interpret an antigen test five days after an exposure.
“If it’s positive, stay home for another five days. If it’s negative, I would say you still really need to wear a mask. You still may have some transmissibility ahead of you. You still should probably not visit Grandma. You shouldn’t get on an airplane, and you should still be pretty careful when you’re with other people by wearing a mask all the time.”
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