As Omicron, the new variant of coronavirus, continues to spread around the world, experts have warned that it is possible to get infected with it twice.
The US 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. Other experts have noted that data suggest being infected once does not necessarily protect from further infection.
Recently American epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted: “It’s [reinfection] 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.”
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
According to the World Health Organization, 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 said: “People shed so much virus with Omicron. As with other infections, sometimes immunity can be swamped if the exposure is very intense.”
A recent research from the Imperial College London revealed that the risk of reinfection with Omicron was 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,” warned 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.