Fact Check: Can You Be Infected By Omicron Variant Twice?
London: Instances of COVID-19 patients getting re-infected have not been uncommon since the global pandemic broke two years ago. The coronavirus has seen multiple mutations with the Delta variant proving to be most lethal, first in Europe and then in India where it wreaked havoc last year.
Since November 2021, the world has been grappling with Omicron, the latest variant of SARS-CoV-2 which spreads faster than anything seen so far, although the severity of the disease is much low, keeping fatalities and hospitalisations down to manageable levels so far.
The massive Omicron-driven surge in infections has resulted in the US reporting over 1 million new daily cases, while the daily count in countries like India, France and Britain has been hovering between 2 and 3 lakh.
The question in many people’s minds is whether Omicron can infect the same person twice.
According to experts, cases of Omicron striking more than once may not be a rare occurrence, and may be already taking place in certain cases in a short span of time.
According to US epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding, Omicron reinfection is certainly possible, especially if the first infection was of a ‘low dose’. Another possibility of Omicron reinfection could be in people with heavily compromised immunity, Eric felt.
“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,” Eric tweeted.
Before Omicron emerged, cases of COVID-19 reinfection were being reported after several months because natural immunity that the body developed after one infection lasted at least seven to nine months.
But, as another medical expert pointed out, Omicron may not be inducing a very high level of protective immunity, and hence people could get infected twice in a quick interval.
“Omicron is highly contagious and it would appear to not induce fantastic protective immunity,” said Stanley Weiss, professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the Department of Epidemiology at Rutgers School of Public Health.