As the spread of highly contagious Omicron, the new variant of Coronavirus, continues to batter countries worldwide, including India, experts have warned that it is possible to get infected with Omicron twice. US epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding said Omicron reinfections are certainly possible, “It’s certainly possible if your first Omicron infection was a low-dose one that didn’t stimulate your immune system enough or if you’re immunocompromised. Be careful folks,” he tweeted.
There are lots of recent anecdotes about new #Omicron reinfections after a recent Omicron infection. It’s certainly possible if your first Omicron infection was a low-dose one that didn’t stimulate your immune system enough or if you’re immunocompromised. Be careful folks. ? https://t.co/k0lcBibyl7— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 15, 2022
While the US health agency Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that some Covid-19 reinfections “are expected,” and scientists are trying to learn more about reinfections with the virus, other experts have noted it is possible as data has suggested being infected once does not necessarily protect from further infection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Omicron is a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 mutations in the spike protein, making it highly contagious. William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine has warned, “People shed so much virus with Omicron. As with other infections, sometimes immunity can be swamped if the exposure is very intense.”
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While data on Omicron is limited, a recent research from the Imperial College London revealed that the risk of reinfection with Omicron is 5.4 times higher than it was with Delta. It was found that protection against reinfection by Omicron from a past Covid-19 infection could be as low as 19 per cent.
However, experts have reiterated that time interval between both the infections is a big factor in how the infection affects people. “The longer the interval from the last infection, the less protection you have from that infection,” warns Martin J. Blaser, M.D., Henry Rutgers Chair of the Human Microbiome and director of the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine at Rutgers University.
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