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Are you in danger of catching Covid a second time?

A recent resurgence of Covid cases in the UK sees many previously recovered individuals get infected again.

As England is making progress with its ‘living with Covid’ plan to bring back the normality of pre-Covid times, a flurry of Covid cases has developed across the country.

During the previous Covid waves, a person being infected for a second time was somewhat of a rare occurrence. However, this time around, many more people are catching Covid a second time.

Read more: England’s new plan for ‘living with Covid’

PCR Test and COVID-19 Vaccine

Catching Covid a second time

One of the likeliest reasons for people to catch Covid again after having recovered is the new Omicron variant (BA.2). This variant is said to be more efficient at slipping past the body’s defences built from previous infections.

The other possible explanation is the high number of people who have already caught Covid once before. It is only natural that an increasing fraction of the new wave of infections is a second time for most. The reason is that coronaviruses tend to evolve (such as the emergence of the Omicron variant), and immunity built on previous infections tends to fade with time.

Nevertheless, getting infected with Covid a second time within a very short spell remains highly unlikely. Moreover, the possibility of serious illness is significantly lower for most people getting infected for a second time.

Read more: What are the new Covid symptoms?

Shop Closed for Covid-19

Is Covid reinfection very common?

Even as recently as November 2021, of the number of recorded cases in the UK, fewer than 1% were categorised as reinfections. This trend changed with the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Omicron is different from the previous Covid variants in that it is adept at slipping undetected past the body’s immunity formed after having been infected previously.

The ‘Spring’ Omicron variant (also known as BA.2) is the predominant strain across the UK. This variant is supposedly responsible for increasing the reinfection rate to 10 times more than during the previous Covid waves.

Non-Travel Lateral Flow tests

Does the new Omicron variant cause more severe illness?

Both versions of the Omicron variant (BA.1 and BA.2) are considerably milder than previous Covid strains.

In spite of the high numbers of infections in the UK due to the current wave, fewer people are being hospitalised. The latest figures (from 5 April) show that the total number of people hospitalised due to Covid is approximately half the number seen in January 2021.

While illness caused by Omicron BA.2 may be less severe, for people getting Covid again, if they experience any illness at all, it is sure to be very mild.

Furthermore, the government’s spring booster vaccine rollout will aid in enhancing the immunity of the more vulnerable individuals. It stands to reason that the spring booster will also prevent serious illness from an Omicron infection, whether it is the first or second time.

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What to do if you begin exhibiting symptoms?

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has recently reworked the official Covid guidance to include nine new symptoms.

The full list of Covid symptoms currently comprises:

  • New and continuous cough
  • Change in /loss of smell or taste
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Exhaustion/feelings of tiredness
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Being sick or feeling sick

While the current guidance no longer requires individuals to enter quarantine or take Covid tests when they experience any of the symptoms, they are advised to stay home for at least five days if they receive a positive result from a privately acquired Covid test.

The NHS advises people to stay home and avoid contact with others if they experience Covid symptoms in addition to having a high temperature. Additionally, people are advised to stay home if they feel so unwell as to prevent them from going to work or taking part in daily activities.

A Swab Sample being Inserted into a Tube

What if I want to do a Covid test?

As part of the UK’s ‘living with Covid’ initiative, the government has scrapped free Covid tests. However, you will still be able to acquire Covid tests from private test providers.

Lateral flow tests (rapid antigen tests) can be purchased for £2.95 per unit from VIVO Clinic. These self-administered tests can be extremely beneficial if you suspect a possible infection. Additionally, they can come in super handy if you are about to meet a loved one who may be at higher risk from Covid.

Lateral flow tests for £2.95/unit

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