Can you get COVID twice? What to know about coronavirus reinfection

Confirming COVID-19 reinfection is tough as a result of it requires genetic testing of check samples. Most labs are ill-equipped.  

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For essentially the most up-to-date information and knowledge about the coronavirus pandemic, go to the WHO and CDC web sites.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, specialists have grappled with the query of how a lot immunity somebody has as soon as they have been sick with COVID-19 and whether or not that’ll shield them sooner or later. Though documented circumstances of reinfection with COVID-19 stay uncommon at this level within the pandemic, getting the coronavirus twice is feasible, which raises a brand new query: Should individuals who’ve had the illness get the vaccine?

Yes, in accordance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each particular person eligible ought to get a COVID-19 vaccine, together with those that’ve been sick with the coronavirus and recovered. This is as a result of research have proven that vaccination gives a powerful increase in immunity to people who’ve recovered from COVID-19, and vaccination is a a lot safer way to get immunity from the coronavirus than getting contaminated with COVID-19, in accordance to the CDC.

A CDC report launched Friday discovered that unvaccinated individuals who beforehand had COVID-19 have been about 2.34 occasions extra probably to get reinfected than vaccinated individuals who’ve had it. This research alone would not show something, however it does again up earlier analysis that means vaccinated individuals who’ve had COVID-19 have strong future protection.

Matt Weissenbach, epidemiologist and senior director of scientific affairs for scientific surveillance and compliance at Wolters Kluwer, tells CNET that you ought to consider a coronavirus vaccine as a “top-off” to your immune system’s gasoline tank if you’ve already had COVID-19. 

“Certainly, any immunity is better than nothing,” Weissenbach says. “But at this point there’s no replacing the protective factor of vaccination.”

How a lot pure immunity do you have after COVID-19, precisely? How probably are you to get it twice? Does it imply you can skip the second dose of the vaccine? For many questions surrounding the coronavirus, analysis remains to be underway. Here, we stroll you by what specialists know and, simply as importantly, what they do not know about COVID-19 reinfection, together with what to look out for and steps you can take to protect yourself and get tested.  


Patients get checked in for his or her docs’ appointment outdoors the power and are not permitted indoors till they get a textual content that the physician is prepared to see them. Free N95 masks have been being given to these about to enter.

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Is getting reinfected with COVID-19 one thing I ought to fear about?

Closing in on two years into the coronavirus pandemic, reinfection with COVID-19 stays a uncommon occasion, in accordance to the information accessible to scientists. Weissenbach says COVID-19 reinfection circumstances make up lower than 1% of all COVID-19 circumstances. But monitoring reinfection precisely is tough due to decentralized testing, lack of communication between labs and a restricted variety of US labs that save COVID-19 testing samples, he says. In order to affirm reinfection, scientists want to evaluate the genetic materials of earlier and present checks.

Another issue which may lead to underreported reinfection circumstances is that many second situations of COVID-19 are delicate, which leads folks to not notice they’re contaminated once more, virologist Theodora Hatziioannou told Healthline


Recovering from COVID-19 can require bedrest.

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Does testing constructive twice imply I’ve positively been reinfected?

Not essentially, particularly if you’re testing inside three months of first getting sick, in accordance to Weissenbach. If somebody checks constructive for COVID-19, checks damaging after which checks constructive once more, it is probably due to viral shedding of the unique virus, he says. 

“Many viruses can shed for quite some time after the illness has subsided,” Weissenbach says. True reinfection with COVID-19 implies that somebody was contaminated with the virus on two totally different events, normally months aside. Long COVID-19, a syndrome that some folks develop after having the coronavirus, can also be not a reinfection or lively an infection. 


In the ready room on the docs’ workplace, indicators on each chair ask that sufferers chorus from sitting.

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Why do I want the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19? Do I want each doses? 

According to a study from Kentucky analyzed in final week’s CDC report, individuals who beforehand had COVID-19 have been about twice as probably to get it once more in the event that they weren’t vaccinated, suggesting that the coronavirus vaccines are very efficient even when you’ve already had the virus.

“If you have had COVID-19 before, please still get vaccinated,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said on Friday. “Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others around you, especially as the more contagious delta variant spreads around the country.”

Weissenbach says that energy of somebody’s pure immunity from an infection probably will not final “over the long haul,” and that vaccination may present higher safety. This is as a result of vaccines goal a “particular reaction” out of your immune system, he says. 

“It’s done so in a very targeted and emphasized way so that it generally is going to be a more robust, lasting immune response than may otherwise be provided naturally through your body,” Weissenbach says. Think of it as a “double dose,” he says.

But analysis exhibits individuals who’ve already had COVID-19 strongly profit from a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, which isn’t the case for individuals who have not been sick. According to an article in Nature, some individuals who’ve had COVID-19 and acquired only one vaccine shot mount immune responses equal to or better than individuals who bought each doses however by no means had COVID-19. 

To sum it up: Research exhibits that COVID-19 vaccines give you stronger immunity if you’ve already had the virus, however it most likely is not as crucial for you to get each doses, although the steerage nonetheless is for everybody to get each. 

Long COVID-19 and vaccines

Getting a coronavirus vaccine helps some who’re dwelling with what’s typically known as “long COVID” after being identified with the coronavirus. Experts are nonetheless researching why, precisely, however getting a COVID-19 vaccine helps relieve the symptoms of some long-haulers

In an earlier dialog with CNET about long COVID-19, Dr. Nasia Safdar, director of an infection management on the University of Wisconsin, stated, “Vaccination serves two purposes.” 

Safdar defined, “One, of course you want to get it before you have COVID so it protects you from it, but even in the people who have had the infection, anecdotally, it seems that vaccination helps with the symptoms of long COVID.” 

If I’m sick, how lengthy ought to I wait to get the vaccine? 

According to this Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Pisano, an infectious illness specialist with the University of Chicago Medicine who additionally had COVID-19 and is now vaccinated, you can get the vaccine anytime after you’re not infectious or in quarantine.

People who acquired monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as therapy for COVID-19, nonetheless, ought to wait 90 days earlier than getting the vaccine, in accordance to the CDC. It’s really helpful to wait if you’ve acquired monoclonal antibodies as therapy as a result of they stop your physique from forming a sturdy immune response to the vaccine, in accordance to a Cleveland Clinic report.

People with multisystem inflammatory syndrome also needs to think about delaying vaccination till they’re not sick, the CDC says


It’s arduous to say whether or not COVID-19 signs reminiscent of dry cough and lack of style and odor get worse or higher with a second an infection.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Is COVID-19 worse the primary time or the second?

With most viruses, a second infection is usually milder than the primary as a result of the physique has constructed antibodies in opposition to it. However, that is not at all times the case, and there is nonetheless a lot about SARS-CoV-2 docs are persevering with to reveal. With some viruses, already having antibodies for the virus can truly make a second an infection worse. Dengue fever and Zika virus are examples. 

For most sufferers who’ve had COVID-19 greater than as soon as, signs have sometimes been delicate or absent fully with a second bout of the virus. But some sufferers’ second diseases have actually been worse compared with their first infection, making it tough to declare both is the norm for the coronavirus.

How a lot pure immunity do I’ve from being sick?

Prior an infection with COVID-19 reduces your probabilities of getting sick by about 80% after six months, in accordance to a study printed in Lancet in March. For folks over age 65, the safety is 47%. The identical research factors to analysis from the UK that discovered that pure immunity lasts a minimum of six months after an infection.

However, the quantity of pure immunity somebody has varies particular person to particular person, Weissenbach notes. “Every individual is different,” he says. “If you’re dealing with someone who has underlying health conditions or is immunocompromised, the concept of natural immunity can be quite a bit weaker.” Factors like how a lot immunity an individual’s physique mounted throughout the first an infection, how a lot of the virus you have been uncovered to and the time between COVID-19 infections can all play a task.

In the University of Chicago Medicine Q&A, Pisano stated that whereas it is potential for somebody to have the next antibody response to COVID-19 after getting sick than they might from getting the vaccine, there is not sufficient knowledge to evaluate how an infection severity or antibody responses have an effect on coronavirus immunity. 

“We don’t have clear data on how antibody responses from a mild infection compare to a severe infection, or how protective those antibody responses are,” Pisano stated.

Is reinfection extra probably with the delta variant?

The delta variant is rather more transmissible than previous variants and specialists suppose it may be inflicting extra extreme illness. According to a CDC presentation, reinfection charges with the delta variant may be greater than reinfection with the beforehand dominant alpha variant. 

Weissenbach says that reinfection with viruses, together with the coronavirus, is anticipated at some degree. “Much like the flu virus mutates every year, we’re seeing different mutations among the circulating variants of COVID-19,” he says. So far, no variant (delta included) has discovered a method round our vaccines, as all of them proceed to shield in opposition to extreme illness and demise brought on by the coronavirus.

But the ever-evolving virus will continue to mutate and kind new variants as long as a good portion of the inhabitants stays unvaccinated or with out immunity. As it does, experts fear there could possibly be a variant that strips away safety from the preliminary vaccines. 

Bottom line: “It’s worth re-emphasizing that the vaccines are safe and effective at providing a protective immune response against the virus,” Weissenbach says. “Inherently that benefit would minimize any risk of either initial infection or potential reinfection.”

The data contained on this article is for instructional and informational functions solely and isn’t supposed as well being or medical recommendation. Always seek the advice of a doctor or different certified well being supplier concerning any questions you might have about a medical situation or well being goals.

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