Recently, two junior doctors at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi’s Saket tested positive for Covid-19 only seven to ten days after they recovered from the same infection.
“Fourteen days ago, the two doctors were symptomatic and tested positive for Covid. Subsequently, they tested negative, but after seven to ten days of recovery, they began showing the same symptoms again. This includes fever, headache, body ache and sore throat. We have sent their samples for genome sequencing,” said Dr Jitumoni Baishya, cardiac anaesthetist at Max Hospital.
It is not yet known if the doctors had Omicron twice in quick succession or two different variants of the virus back to back.
But does this mean you can get Omicron again after recovering from it? IndiaToday spoke to health experts to find out.
CAN ONE GET OMICRON AGAIN?
When asked, Dr Baishya of Max Hospital said, “There is a possibility that if the patient had a low or moderate level of infection from the Omicron variant, the immunity generated by the patient against the variant is not optimum and there are more chances of re-infection. We need to evaluate further as to why people are getting infected after recovery.”
Dr Dhiren Gupta, senior consultant at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “It has been observed that a few patients are getting Covid-like symptoms again two to four weeks after they first tested positive for Covid. The numbers are very few and it’s not clear whether this is re-infection or some other disease process. The RT-PCR result could be coming positive due to persistence of dead virus in the nose. Epidemiologist should investigate and define the phenomenon.”ADVERTISEMENThttps://7add28ba3f4d8aac17dd99c5da1c5f2f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
He added, “Based on current evidence, Covid re-infection is defined as getting an RT-PCR positive result along with reappearance of symptoms three months after first infection. Thus, the above phenomenon cannot be explained this way. We need to keep a close watch on symptoms and we cannot be complacent even if we have had Omicron.”
BA.2 vs BA.1: BATTLE OF SUB-LINEAGES
Additionally, it is important to note that the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron variant is gradually replacing BA.1 in some Indian cities. The two sub-lineages, it appears, are fighting to survive the vaccine.
It has been speculated that BA.2 is even more transmissible than BA.1. In Denmark, BA.2 spread about 1.5 times quicker that BA.1. It is already known that the ‘original’ Omicron, BA.1, is itself more transmissible than prior variants like Delta and Alpha.
According to experts, an unvaccinated person is 10 per cent more likely to catch Covid-19 from someone infected with BA.2 sub-lineage than fully vaccinated people. An unvaccinated person is also 20 per cent more likely to pass it on.
A person who has got a booster dose of the vaccine is 20 per cent less likely to catch the BA.2 sub-lineage virus than someone who is fully vaccinated and about 20 per cent less likely to pass it on.
EXPOSURE DOES NOT MEAN COMPLETE IMMUNITY
According to epidemiologist and public health expert Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, recent exposure to the virus means you are less likely to have clinical symptomatic disease, but it does not mean you will not contract the infection at all.
He said, “Recent exposure means that you are less likely to have clinical symptomatic disease, but it doesn’t mean you will not contract the infection at all. The reason is that recent exposure leads to higher antibody count which can locally neutralise the virus. Currently, re-infection is not linked to disease severity. As of now, there is high force of transmission as the pandemic is still ongoing.”
“Antibodies protect from severe disease. There is less likelihood of getting severe infection,” he added.https://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/omicron-variant-covid-reinfection-rtpcr-coronavirus-news-1907798-2022-02-02