Brits warned new Omicron variant means you can catch COVID again within weeks
Brits have been given a stark warning from health experts after discovering that the coronavirus variant Omicron BA 5 can reinfect people despite protections.
Previous advice suggested that anyone who is vaccinated, have received antibody treatments, or have developed natural immunity from any previous exposure were less at risk, especially in the initial months after.
However, Andrew Robertson, the chief health officer of Western Australia, claims that he is seeing cases of reinfection within a matter of weeks, as reported by News.com.au.
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He explained: “What we are seeing is an increasing number of people who have been infected with BA.2 and then becoming infected after four weeks.
"So maybe six to eight weeks they are developing a second infection, and that's almost certainly either BA.4 or BA.5."
Reinfections with BA.5 and BA.4 are thought to be less severe compared with early COVID-19 infections, Dr. David Dowdy, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider.
He explains this is because the virus has evolved to have some resistance to antibodies, immune systems are learning to respond to it.
The cases of reinfection recorded could be due to a mutation in the virus that has let them evade the previous protections.
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Dowdy said that: “while the immune system still churns out antibodies to neutralize an infection, that protection tapers off over time. It's not an on-off switch but if someone is exposed to a tricky subvariant as their protection is waning, the virus may find an opening.
"Anything that can get around that immune response just a little bit faster has an advantage when a lot of the population is immune”.
A recent study out of Columbia University that has not been peer-reviewed found that the recent BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were at least four times as resistant to protection against the virus compared with previous variants in the Omicron lineage.
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