COVID re-infections are mild but last long and come ‘back’ sooner say experts

COVID re-infections are mild but last long and come ‘back’ sooner say experts
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  • Doctors and medical experts say that one may get infected with COVID again but may have very mild symptoms or even can be asymptomatic.
  • Emerging strains and sub variants of Omicron are largely responsible for the recent spike but is milder than the previous waves.
  • “Though vaccines do not provide complete protection against reinfection, they have been effectively preventing,” Dr Rashmi Khadapkar told Business Insider India.
Sudhanshu Singh, a Noida resident, is suffering from COVID for the second time after having severe body ache, fever, cold and cough for a few days. He along with his flatmates, who are fully vaccinated, have been isolating for the last ten days.

Singh, who had tested positive last year as well in April, believes that this COVID strain has lasted longer than the previous one.

“Last time when I got COVID, I had recovered within 4-5 days only and tested negative on the tenth day itself. However, this time it's been 10 days, I haven’t tested negative yet,” Singh told Business Insider India.

“For a few days I couldn't stand nor sit properly because of severe body ache. I couldn't even eat and sleep,” he added. Loss of appetite, loss of taste and smell and weight loss were some of the other symptoms Singh had during reinfection.

In fact, people reinfected with the virus constitute a large chunk of the recent cases detected in the country, experts and members of state COVID task force say.


“Nearly 40% of the patients that this hospital is currently treating have been reinfected. A majority of them are those who caught Omicron during the third wave. We suspect BA.4 and BA.5 are reinfecting not just the Delta-recovered but also those who contracted Covid during the Omicron wave,” Dr Ameet Dravid, Noble Hospital's infectious disease specialist in Maharashtra told Times of India.

Experts say that the emerging strains and sub variants of Omicron, largely irresponsible for the recent spike, are milder than the previous waves.

Another resident of Delhi, Shashi Sethi, told us that she had a mild one for the second time. “I had fever, cold and cough, and body ache and I knew it is COVID again. I took a RAT and it showed positive,” Sethi said.

“The first time I tested positive, my lungs had become weak as I’m an asthmetic patient as well. But in the second one, I was comparatively not that weak and felt better after resting for 4-5 days itself,” she added.

New variants are milder but can come back again ‘sooner’

Doctors say that one may get infected with COVID again but may have mild symptoms or can even be asymptomatic. Yet its chances of reinfection are very high.

“The chances of reinfection are significant because we do not have cross-immunity against all the variants. The same variant can infect you again as well, as seen in the previous wave. Some people had reinfections after completely recovering from COVID,” Dr Akshay Budhraja, senior consultant, Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka told Business Insider India, in an interview.

It is very rare that reinfection would cause severe symptoms, Dr Budhraja said.

A team of scientists, led by Laith Abu-Raddad at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar estimated that the chances of reinfection in earlier variants were quite low but this is not the case in Omicron.

“Delta or an earlier coronavirus strain was roughly 90% effective in preventing a reinfection in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. But Omicron really changed that calculation,” said Dr Abu-Raddad, an infectious disease epidemiologist.

Various strains and sub variants have emerged since the pandemic began in 2020 which have been highly transmissible and severe. However, vaccines are the ultimate solution to this, say experts.

“Vaccines stimulate adaptive immunity against different SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Though vaccines do not provide complete protection against reinfection, they have been effectively preventing severe infection with significantly lower morbidity and mortality,” Dr Rashmi Khadapkar, Head of department, Molecular infectious department, SRL diagnostics told Business Insider.

However, to avoid reinfection one should take all precautionary measures. “Reinfection can be avoided if recommended COVID-19 precautions are continually practiced — wearing mask, physical distancing, washing hands frequently, avoiding large gatherings/crowded places, cleaning and disinfecting home and vicinity,” she further added.

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