COVID-19 Reinfections: Are You Next?
Just when we think COVID-19 is starting to back off, another subvariant rears its ugly head.
New Omicron subvariants are causing more people to catch COVID-19 for the second and third time than previous strains—even people who are fully vaccinated and boosted.
Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 reinfections, including the current COVID-19 reinfection rate, why the risk of reinfection is higher, and how convenient COVID-19 testing at MD Now helps keep you (and others) protected.
Why Do COVID-19 Reinfections Happen?
The term “COVID-19 reinfection” means a person was infected, recovered, and then later became infected again. After recovering from COVID-19, most of us have some protection from reinfection in the form of antibodies. Millions of people have received COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as well. However, COVID-19 reinfections continue to happen as the virus mutates and changes.
All viruses mutate to survive, although not always at the same rate. The more a virus circulates among people, the more it can mutate. The rapidly spreading COVID-19 virus is proving to be no exception. New versions of the COVID-19 virus are called variants – and so far, the Omicron variant is the most challenging of all.
The Omicron Variant
Before the Omicron variant arrived in the United States, COVID-19 reinfections happened less frequently. Then Omicron entered the picture, along with its powerful ability to evade the antibodies created by prior COVID-19 infection, vaccines, and boosters.
The first subvariant of Omicron was known as BA.1, but today we’re facing BA.4 and BA.5. Both subvariants have several mutations that make existing COVID-19 antibodies less effective – in fact, recent studies show they are likely 3-4 times less effective.
Both the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are more contagious as well, resulting in a perfect storm for COVID-19 reinfection rates. People are less protected against reinfection now than they were just a few months ago, and the COVID-19 reinfection rate within 90 days is higher than ever.
COVID-19 Reinfection Rates on the Rise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that BA.5 is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, causing more than 65% of all COVID-19 cases and millions of COVID-19 reinfections since June 2022.
Here’s another powerful statistic: before Omicron arrived, only one-third of Americans had been infected with COVID-19. Today, that number is closer to 60%.
There’s little evidence to suggest that BA.4 and BA.5 are more deadly or cause more serious symptoms than previous subvariants. But even if you recently had COVID-19, you’re now at a higher risk of getting infected.
Are you still unvaccinated? Your odds are even higher. A recent study showed that unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely as fully vaccinated people to get infected again.
Opinions Differ on How Quickly You Can Get Reinfected
The COVID-19 reinfection rate within 90 days and when to test for reinfection are both matters of debate. Current CDC recommendations state that if you tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days, have fully recovered, and remain asymptomatic, you do not need to get retested after potential exposure. This may be due to the fact that PCR tests can sometimes detect trace amounts of the virus, leading to false positive results.
However, BA.4 and BA.5’s ability to overpower antibodies, vaccines, and boosters – along with less mask-wearing and other relaxed restrictions – may change all that. Even being infected by BA.1 or BA.2 doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting reinfected with BA.4 or BA.5 within a few months or less. And your symptoms can differ each time you get COVID-19, making it difficult to realize that you’re infected again.
With new COVID-19 subvariants spreading faster than ever before, we think it’s best to know for sure. If you suspect you have a COVID-19 reinfection within 90 days of your last infection, contact MD Now today.
Your Options for COVID-19 Testing at MD Now
Have you searched “COVID-19 testing near me” online? Trust the COVID-19 specialists at MD Now. We offer many types of COVID-19 testing, including:
- Rapid testing – Get quick and accurate results at all 75+ MD Now locations. Your results should be ready in 15 minutes or less.
- PCR testing – We’ve partnered with the leading national CLIA-certified lab to provide PCR testing with results in 48 hours or less.
- Antibody testing – Want to know if you were likely exposed to COVID-19 in the past? Find out in 48 hours or less. But remember, past infection does not guarantee you will not get infected again—especially now.
Best of all, no appointment is necessary—just walk in!
Find COVID-19 Testing Near Me
Our physician-led team of healthcare professionals offer convenient COVID-19 testing at all locations. Patients with positive results may also be eligible for treatment during the same visit at select locations. We’re open convenient hours to serve you, so you can always get the answers you need.