Feeling a bit under the weather but not sure if its simple flu or the wrath of COVID-19? Wondering can you get covid twice? Well don’t worry because we have got you covered. This article will explore the possibility of getting infected with covid twice along with discussing possible symptoms that you should be on the lookout for.
Living through a pandemic can be overwhelming. There’s a constant fear of getting infected or infecting someone. Either way, you have to take multiple precautionary measures to ensure you and others around you are safe. Even then, there’s a chance that you may get infected. However, that does not mean you need to start living perilously.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to wear a mask, use a hand sanitizer regularly, wash your hands when possible and most importantly, get vaccinated. Those who have not been vaccinated are at higher risk of getting severely sick in comparison to those who have been vaccinated. Hence, it is your duty as a responsible citizen to ensure that you and your family are fully vaccinated.
The overall pattern of the coronavirus pandemic has been in the form of waves: surges in cases followed by declines. Several factors affect this increase and decrease in cases; these factors will be discussed in the article followed by an assessment of the risks associated with different variants of COVID-19.
Read along to find out can you get covid twice and what measures you can take to prevent yourself from becoming a part of the next wave.
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness in humans. The name “corona” comes from the fact that these viruses have crown-like spikes on their surface. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome(SARS) and the common cold are a few examples of coronaviruses that cause illness in humans.
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV 2 virus. This new strain of the virus was reported in Wuhan China for the first time in December 2019. It was initially reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 31st December, 2019. Since then, it has spread to every country around the world.
On 30th January, 2020, WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a global health emergency. And later on 11th March, 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic since declaring H1N1 influenza a pandemic in 2009.
The name COVID-19 was termed by WHO, an acronym derived from “coronavirus disease 2019”. This name was chosen to help avoid stigmatizing the virus’s origin in terms of population, geography or animal associations.
How does COVID-19 spread?
The infectious diseases caused by SARS-CoV-2 is primarily spread from person to person through small droplets or by contact with contaminated surfaces. The primary route of transmission for the virus is the inhalation of small respiratory droplets from an infected person.
Those who are within proximity of less than one meter from an infected person are at high risk of inhaling viral particles from an infected person..
Larger respiratory droplets (talking and coughing mildly) only remain in the air for a short period of time and usually do not travel distances longer than a meter. On the other hand, small respiratory nuclei from sneezing, can travel distances greater than one meter.
Evidence suggests that in most cases, COVID-19 is transmitted by respiratory droplets, through symptomatic individuals that may sneeze causing the infected droplets to propel much further. Therefore, the risk of infection in enclosed spaces is far greater than being outdoors.
Another indirect route of transmission can be by being in contact with contaminated surfaces. When an infected person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their face with close proximity to eyes, nose and mouth, they are at risk of being infected.
Generally speaking, COVID-19 has poor survivability on surfaces thus, the risk of being infected by shopping items or by touching parcels is relatively low. The virus can survive on cardboard for one day and two days on plastic. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you wipe surfaces and packets with a disinfectant or use wipes. Use hand sanitizers before entering and after leaving a store.
Some evidence has also suggested the presence of the SARS-CoV 2 RNA in the stool samples of those infected. It has not yet been discovered whether these are infectious particles or not. However, some evidence does point to viral particles being present after the toilet being flushed.
Lastly, studies indicate viral particles can be isolated from body fluids including tears, saliva and tears hence proving that the virus could possibly be transmitted through these routes as well.
Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 affects everyone differently. Your symptoms don’t necessarily have to be the same as someone else you know. Most people that are infected develop mild to moderate symptoms are able to recover without being hospitalized.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Loss of smell or taste
Other less common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Pains and aches
- A rash on the sin
- Discolouration of toes or fingers
- Red or irritated eyes
Some serious symptoms that require immediate attention include:
- Chest pains
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of speech
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
It is suggested that you should seek immediate medical attention if you or anyone around you has serious symptoms of the virus. On the other hand, those who have mild symptoms and are otherwise healthy should quarantine and manage their symptoms at home.
On average, the symptoms appear 5-6 days after you are infected and it can take up to 14 days for you to recover. It is recommended that you take a Covid test at the end of your quarantine period to ensure that you are no longer infected.
Benefits of COVID-19 vaccine
Here’s all you need to know about the covid vaccine and why they are your best option against the virus.
COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide and are effective at protecting people from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized and even dying. It is vital that you get yourself vaccinated as per the suggestion of your medical advisor and be sure to get a booster to ensure that your immunity against the virus remains strong. These vaccines are safe and definitely much safer than getting infected from COVID-19.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
Different vaccines work in different ways to provide you protection against diseases. But with all vaccines, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes and “B-Lymphocytes” that will remember how to fight the virus in the future.
It usually takes a few weeks after being vaccinated for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus and get sick just before or right after being vaccinated.
At times, after being vaccinated, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms such as fever. However, these symptoms are normal and suggest that the body is building its immunity.
Types of Covid vaccines
Currently, many vaccines have been developed against COVID-19. However, in this article, the three main types will be discussed to help you understand how a vaccine works by prompting our bodies to recognize and fight against the virus.
mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna):
These vaccines contain material from the virus that causes covid. It gives our cells instructions for how to make harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine.
Next, our bodies recognize the protein that should be present and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will continue to remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we were to be infected in the future.
Protein subvariant vaccines:
Protein subvariant vaccines include harmless pieces of protein of the virus that causes the COVID-19 instead of the entire germ. Once you are vaccinated, your body recognizes the protein that should not be there and builds T-lymphocytes and antibodies that will remember how to fight the virus if you get infected in the future.
Vector vaccines (Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen):
This type of vaccine contains a modified version of a different virus than the one that causes covid. This is known as a viral vector. Inside the shell of the modified virus, there is a genetic material from the virus that causes covid. Once the viral vector enters our blood stream, the genetic material gives the cells instructions to produce a protein that is unique to the virus that causes covid.
Through these instructions, our cells start making copies of the protein. This prompts our body to build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus if you get infected in the future.
You may be advised to take a booster shot a few months after getting your vaccine to enhance or restore protection against COVID-19 which can decrease over time. Moreover, those people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and did not build sufficient or any protection against their primary vaccine series can be advised to take an additional primary dose.
Why should you get vaccinated?
As mentioned, after receiving your first shot of the vaccine, your body starts producing antibodies against the coronavirus. These antibodies will help your immune system fight against the virus more efficiently if you happen to be exposed to the virus. You are less likely to get severely sick or hospitalized. Yes, you can still get infected however, you will only suffer from mild symptoms before fully recovering in a few days.
In addition, by being vaccinated, there is further reduction in chances of getting infected by the development of a herd immunity. Hence, when you get vaccinated, you are also contributing towards protecting entire communities as the likelihood of virus transmission decreases.
Furthermore, studies suggest that expecting mothers who receive COVID-19 vaccine are able to create antibodies which are then passed on to the unborn baby through the placenta. In addition, mothers can also pass on antibodies to newborn babies through their breast milk. This shall allow the baby to develop a good immunity against the virus.
Studies carried out for Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson indicate that the vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness from covid, So the chances of getting severely ill after being vaccinated are slim.
In short, the COVID-19 vaccines are the most effecting way of preventing and fighting against COVID-19
Can you get covid twice?
Yes, you can get infected from COVID-19 more than once. There are many reason why this can happen:
- You immunity from the initial infection has started to wear off
- Vaccine immunity starts to diminish with time. You are required to receive a third dose
- You have stopped being as careful as you were before
- New variants are more contagious than the previous ones
When you put these four factors together, it may not be surprising why you may be prone to getting infected twice. The delta variant was considered to be at least twice as contagious as the previous variant whereas the omicron variant became the most contagious amongst all variants that have emerged up till now.
However, you may be surprised and at the same time glad to learn that the coronavirus does not mutate nearly as much as flu which changes its genetic makeup nearly each year making it very difficult to fight against.
Who is at risk of COVID-19 reinfection?
At present, we know that anyone is prone to infection by COVID-19 be that the vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, the intensity of the infection varies greatly. While doctors around the world are still learning and researching about who is at risk of reinfection, some people are by far at a higher risk than others and here’s why.
● Reinfection in unvaccinated people
Think you’re safe if you’ve already had covid and have hence decided to not get the vaccine? Well then think again. According to Dr. Esper at the Cleveland Clinic, ” This virus can overcome a person’s host immunity and cause a second infection.”
He has referenced a study which shows that unvaccinated people are 2.34 times more likely to be infected with covid twice than those who have been fully vaccinated.
● Reinfection in immunocompromised people
People that have weak immunity are at higher risk of being infected again. This is why countries around the world started with vaccinating individuals who are immunocompromised. Moreover, individuals with immunity problems are more likely to have less of a response to a vaccine. Hence, it is essential that they get a booster shot to increase their immunity against the virus.
How soon can you get reinfected?
This is something that experts worldwide are still trying to figure out. 60% reinfections from non-omicron variants in between March 2020 and March 2021 in Denmark alone occurred in less than two months after the first infection. This suggests that you have a shorter period of time before getting reinfected than what was initially expected.
This is usually because the newer variants are much better at overcoming prior immunity even if you have recovered from covid fairly recently. If you feel like your symptoms are re emerging, it is best to get tested again.
Top COVID-19 questions and answers
In this part of the article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions to help you develop a better understanding of the virus and what efforts you can make to fight it.
How effective are face masks against Covid?
Face masks without a doubt help control the spread of COVID-19 and should thus be worn in enclosed spaces. There are several types of face masks available in the market. These masks can block viral droplets from being emitted when a person speaks, coughs, sneezes or exhales.
It is most important to wear a face mask in public where there are people around. Be sure that your face mask covers both your mouth and nose and don’t touch it as you can transmit the virus by touching contaminated surfaces.
Make sure you either wash your mask regularly or buy a new one to maintain the efficacy of covering your mouth and nose.
How often should you clean your hands after an outdoor activity?
You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after any activity that involves you touching foreign objects. It is recommended that you use a hand sanitizer as often as possible after you touch a surface, sneeze, cough or blow your nose.
Does social distancing work?
Social distancing is a term applied to actions taken by public health officials to stop or slow the spread of a contagious virus. It restricts individuals from gathering unnecessarily to prevent or slow the spread of the infection.
Such measures include closing down buildings, canceling events, limiting gatherings of large groups of people and deliberately increasing the space between people to avoid contact with those who may be ill. It is suggested you to remain at least 6ft away from people to reduce the chance of catching the virus.
How does COVID-19 affect children?
While children of all ages can catch covid, they do not become as sick as adults. However, in children, a multisystem inflammatory syndrome seems to be linked with covid. In this condition, different parts of the body may become inflamed including the brain, heart, lungs, kidney, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.
Children who end up suffering from this syndrome may experience fever, belly pain, diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, rash, neck pain or bloodshot eye. Doctors are still researching the link between covid and this syndrome. In case your child has any such symptoms, it is best to seek advice from a medical expert.
Are asymptomatic and presymptomatic patients less contagious?
It is estimated that around ⅓ people who get infected with COVID will never develop any symptoms at all. There is also a state called “pre-symptomatic” which means prior to the onset of symptoms. It is estimated that more than ⅓ of viral transmissions occur before people who will get sick develop their symptoms, at that time they are in the presymptomatic phase.
It is not possible to differentiate between the asymptomatic and presymptomatic phase until time elapses. In both cases, the person seems and feels entirely normal. Presymptomatic individuals tend to develop symptoms after someone. On the other hand, people who have no symptoms are important sources of viral transmission.
Is contract tracing effective?
Contract tracing has the power of being effective only if there is widespread and quality implementation. According to a study carried out by “The Lancet Infectious Diseases” even if people were to moderately distance themselves from one another, a robust contact tracing effort can reduce the spread of the virus by ⅔ and eventually snuff out transmission.
However, at present, contact tracing is not adequate and efficient enough to help reduce the spread of covid.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over hence, it is important that we continue to remain cautious and take care of ourselves and others around us. The best way to tackle this novel virus is to get vaccinated and get booster doses when applicable. Once a herd community has been developed, it will make it easier for us to fight the pandemic and come back to normalcy. Thus, make sure you are playing a positive part in helping end this pandemic.