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Can I catch COVID twice? Or does it give you greater immunity?

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Mitch Rogers, who lives on the Central Coast, has just escaped from two weeks of complete isolation and is “quite hard,” he says.

After being infected with COVID earlier this year, a 32-year-old woman living alone returned to her home at Umina Beach to get rid of her symptoms. They took 14 days to finally subside, doubling the required 7-day quarantine period.

But when he re-entered the world on Monday and returned to work in the care department, he was never relieved. “I feel more cautious and nervous,” he says.

In part, he is still infectious and is worried that he may unknowingly pass the virus to someone else. (He thinks he caught the virus from someone who recently left the quarantine and thought they were clear.)

But most of the time, he is afraid to get sick again.

“The booster story is confusing, some sources say you’re immune for 6 months, some say 6 weeks,” he says.

“I went to a takeaway place, but I was the only one wearing a mask. I couldn’t remember if the rules changed, but I couldn’t be relieved without a mask.”

Currently, more than 1 million Australians are infected with COVID, and many recently infected with the virus describe it as shoulder weight, but uneasy for others like Mitch. Is continuing.

So does COVID-19 infection mean that you will never get infected again? And how careful do you need to be when leaving quarantine? This is what the experts say.

Recently recovered from COVID. Can I get it again?

Yes, but probably not for a while.

This is because infectious diseases such as vaccination help the body produce antibodies that dodge SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This immunity is strongest immediately after illness, when the cellular memory of infected and neutralizing antibodies is strongest.

“People who have had an Omicron infection after being previously vaccinated are effectively Infection “improves” immunity In the same way as Third dose of vaccine“Professor Miles Davenport, who heads the Kirby Institute’s Infection Analysis Program.

“This” boost “to immunity should provide a high level of protection from Omicron infections for a considerable period of time, perhaps up to 12 months. “

Experts are currently estimating Omicron It accounts for more than 90% of COVID-19 cases nationwide... However, due to the influx of cases and delayed genomic testing, many people do not know if they were infected with the more dangerous Delta strains of Omicron or earlier.

“Infection with one variant generally provides some protection from other variants,” says Professor Davenport. “Therefore, infection by Omicron provides the strongest protection against. [reinfection with] Omicron — However, protection against other variants is also weak. “

A recent study from South Africa Those recovered from Omicron may be better placed to prevent delta infections... A study of 15 participants recently infected with Omicron, led by the African Institute of Health, found that participants’ ability to neutralize delta variants increased more than four-fold. Results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

However, the same does not seem to be the case, and Omicron can more easily evade immunity from other mutants. But still, epidemiologist Mary-Louise McClaus, who advises the World Health Organization on COVID-19, says it is very safe to assume that the mutant will not be re-infected within three months of recovery.

This is because neutralizing antibodies are at their best during that period before they begin to decline. “With Omicron and Delta, you probably won’t get the antibody forever,” she says.

How long will the protection last?

It is controversial and can vary from person to person. Like Professor McLaws, Professor Steven Tong, an infectious disease specialist at the Doherty Institute, estimates that people who have recently recovered from Omicron need “a fairly high level of protection” for at least three months.

“It’s too early for Omicron, I’m not sure,” says Professor Ton. “I think there is some protection, but I’m not sure.”

In New South Wales, health authorities are playing safely. People who have recently recovered from the virus have an exemption that they do not need to be quarantined if they are in close contact, but this only applies to people who have been infected with the virus in the past month.

“People who have recovered from COVID-19 have a low risk of getting it again within 28 days of your release, as most people develop some degree of immunity,” the NSW Health website reads. is.

But the bigger question is whether another variant will emerge that can circumvent existing antibodies like Omicron. If so, when?

“I don’t know what will happen in six months,” says Professor Tong.

“I don’t know if a person infected with Omicron can re-infect another variant, but in theory it is.”

How about a booster?

Despite the previous COVID infection, you need to get a booster.

Unfortunately, however, the surge in infections is in line with the surge in vaccine reservations for children and the eligibility for boosters for adults, creating a logistic nightmare for organizing reservations.

If you have COVID-19 or symptoms, you shouldn’t go to vaccination appointments, but experts are urging people to get booster shots as soon as possible. But when is the best time?

Federal health advice is unclear. Since the possibility of re-infection is low this time, vaccination may be delayed up to 6 months after infection, but You don’t have to do this..

Professor McLaws recommends waiting three months after infection for the booster effect. This is because the neutralizing antibody begins to decline, assuming that you are feeling better. However, Professor Ton says that the sooner the better.

“If you recover from an acute illness, let’s say you’re back to normal after a couple of weeks, so it’s a good time to take a third shot,” he says.

He emphasizes that even people who have recovered from the virus should receive any vaccinations they are eligible for, as they will help protect them from future reinfections and hospitalizations.

“At least in earlier variants, previous infections and vaccinations on them actually appear to provide near hyperimmunity to COVID.”

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