Is Covid-19 back in Australia? The truth is it never left; the virus causing the deadly disease continues to mutate and generate its variants and subvariants. Therefore, there has been a steady increase in Covid-19 cases across the country. However, it is vital to recount that people in Australia are not contracting the virus for the first time; instead, it is their second, third or fourth time.
Besides, sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 are behind the recent surge of cases around the country, so the government’s health department has introduced a few mandatory points to spread awareness regarding Covid-19.
When are you likely to get Covid-19 after the first time?
Several factors are noteworthy. For instance, according to health authorities, the chances of catching Covid-19 after a successful recovery are low, but reinfection is probable and has lately been observed in many cases.
What factors determine the protection level?
Age or immunocompromised status – If you are older or immunocompromised, you will be able to produce a weak response to vaccination. Hence, you are more likely to get reinfected with the virus.
Vaccination – Studies have proved that vaccinated people have a lower reinfection rate.
Time – Antibodies against viruses wane over a particular period of time. Hence, people are more likely to get reinfected at the 28-day mark than they are a week after they test negative.
Kirby Institute’s mathematical biologist Deborah Cromer pointed out that reinfection depends upon the number of antibodies left in a particular person’s body when they get exposed to the virus. So, the longer time it has been since their first infection, the lower their antibodies reduce.
What do you mean by the reinfection period, and what is the reason behind its change?
The time after an individual’s first infection when the risk of contracting the deadly disease is lower because of the body’s natural immunity to the virus is called the reinfection period. Besides, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) mentioned in the early part of September 2022 that the reinfection period for Covid-19 has been reduced to 28 days from 12 weeks.
The reason behind the reduction in time is the increase in the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants( both of them have a higher level of immune escape). Besides, the subvariants have mutated to an extent wherein they are able to surpass the antibodies that the human body produces when they recover from the virus.
Therefore, if you test positive 28 days after your last infection, you must report it to the nearest healthcare facility. Also, this would lead you to follow the standard seven-day isolation requirements, similar to how one would need to if they got the virus the first time.
How long would a person be contagious?
Most people will not be contagious after ten days since the start of the covid symptoms; it is the same for all people (irrespective of whether they got infected the first, second or third time). However, it is crucial to understand that even if someone is encountering the symptoms ten days after onset, it is possible that they are non-contagious. Hence, a RAT test is the best indicator to help you identify whether the virus is still in your body or not.
Will the symptoms be worse after catching Covid-19 again?
Doctors and healthcare providers have noted that reinfections are less serious than the primary ones; however, that might not be the case for all.
Besides, the body’s response to reinfection depends upon a person’s pre-existing immunity from previous infections or vaccinations. So, people who have already contracted the disease should have some residual immunity- specifically if vaccinated. Therefore, it increases their immunity levels and protects them against the disease. However, exceptions still remain.
At the same time, you must remember that Omicron has been causing more infections than other variants, but substantial data is lacking to conclude the reinfection severity. Hence, it would help if you looked out for symptoms, including fever, coughing, sore throat, and shortness of breath.
What about the booster shot? Doesn’t that work?
Two mandatory vaccination doses and a booster shot are effective against Covid-19 reinfection; Dr Cromer mentioned that two vaccinations might not provide huge immunity against Omicron, but a booster shot effectively elevates the immunity levels. Also, research indicates that hybrid immunity provided by a combination of two vaccinations and prior infection facilitates the best protection.
How long should a person wait to get a booster shot after Covid-19?
The official waiting period is three months after a person has contracted the infection to have their first or second booster shots.