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If you caught Covid this holiday here’s what you need to know

If you caught Covid this holiday here's what you need to know
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Here’s what the experts say you should know.

The test result was positive, but I feel fine. Should I be isolated?

“They based these guidelines on two years of observations about what it means to be contagious,” Snyder said.

This CDC guidance changed in the last days of December. It now says that people who test positive for Covid-19 must be isolated for five days. Then, if they do not develop symptoms or if their symptoms improve — they have been without a fever for 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medication — they should follow this with five days of wearing a mask around others. The CDC says it is optional to have an antigen test on the fifth day; If the result is positive, she must be kept in isolation until the tenth day.

This should reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Experts say a person is less likely to become infected after 10 days if their symptoms have improved and the fever is gone.

“If you’ve been infected and feel fine and it’s been several days, the odds are very high that you’re not contagious,” said Dr. Myron Cohen, director of global health and infectious diseases at UNC. of medicine.

He said that if you and the people around you wear masks, you are taking the appropriate precautions regardless.

“You don’t know who’s contagious in your world,” Cohen said. Just because someone had Covid five days ago doesn’t mean it should be considered more serious. “What about the guy next to you who has never been tested and is asymptomatic and has more copies than me? We should act like everyone has Covid.”

Am I now less likely to catch Covid-19 again?

The infection provides some natural immunity from the coronavirus, but it’s not quite that simple.

He said, “Often we talk about immunity to this virus as if it’s a yes or no. You’re either immune or you’re not. But Mother Nature rarely works that way.”

Immunity in a continuum. It can change over time.

Covid-19 is not chickenpox, for example. “In chickenpox, you’ll never get chickenpox again, but that, you know, is a loud problem,” Cohen said.

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Your body will be better able to fight off the coronavirus after infection, but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t catch it again, said Dr. David Wall, MD, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“I hope you say, once you get Covid, you won’t get it again. This is not that kind of virus,” he said. “So we know with the infection data again, that you’re not going to be immune to it just because you’ve had a previous infection. There are some things that you pick up and then never pick up again, but that’s one of those things where, yeah, you keep getting it.”

In some ways, a person can be “safer” after contracting Covid-19 because they are less likely to develop serious illness from a subsequent infection, said Dr. Sten Vermond, dean of Yale University School of Medicine, Dr. Steen Vermond. . “They’re also less likely to have a high viral load if they get a subsequent infection. So, in that sense, they’re a little bit safer.”

But, experts say, do not go wild. Take precautions.

“I wouldn’t say anyone should feel comfortable, if they have an infection, they can run around and feel like you’re immune to getting reinfected or complications,” Snyder said. “It does provide some protection. I wouldn’t rely on it for 100% protection.”

At some point down the road, Wall said, this coronavirus could be more like a common cold — another coronavirus — and people will catch it every few years, but it may not be as severe, and there will be easy treatments. to reach. But those days are not over yet.

Does illness with one variant provide protection from the other?

After any COVID-19 illness, your body is generally able to detect the coronavirus.

“Regardless of the type, your body is now better able to recognize this virus in the future. It’s stronger; it’s better prepared,” Snyder said. But exactly how prepared it is is not entirely clear.

What parents should know about returning children to school while using Omicron

The Delta and Omicron variants were in circulation around holidays. Capturing one may leave you vulnerable to the other.

“The degree of mutual protection from Delta and Omicron is not yet well known,” Cohen said. “It’s a complex answer overall, but for a simplified one, the answer is that having a normal infection provides some immunity and maybe some cross-immunity, but the magnitude of cross-immunity is unknown.”

Last month, a small study looking at blood taken from people with Omicron in South Africa showed that they had strong immune responses to Omicron — but also boosted immune responses to the delta variant, the researchers reported. The researchers noted that the study is limited and has not been peer-reviewed, and it is not certain that omicron infections boosted immunity in the volunteers’ blood.

And the researchers noted that if omicron infections make people less likely to get delta infections, that might be a good thing. “If this is the case, the incidence of severe Covid-19 disease will be reduced and the infection may shift to become less bothersome to individuals and society,” Alex Sigal and Khadija Khan of the Africa Health Research Institute in Durban, South Africa and their colleagues wrote in their report.

But remember, there is no telling what other variants might appear after these, or how different they are from Delta or Omicron.

What if I get sick and did not receive a vaccination or immunization? Do you still need a shot?

Experts say yes.

With this particular coronavirus, Vermond said, your immune response is better with a vaccine than with a natural infection. It is not entirely clear why.

Studies of re-infection with the Covid-19 virus show that this is true. Reinfection was more common in people with natural immunity than in people who had been vaccinated.

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“The odds are much lower if you had a vaccine — not boosted, just vaccinated — to re-infect than if you weren’t vaccinated and had the infection before,” Wall said.

Wall points to a September study by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that documented about 11,000 infections again. Of these, only 200 cases were in people who had been vaccinated.

“We encourage anyone with an infection to keep vaccinating because vaccination helps the body prepare by making a stronger set of antibodies,” Snyder said. “They correlate more strongly, especially the broader reinforcers. They are able to recognize differences in the virus.”

After the vaccine, any infection again is likely to lead to a much less serious illness.

What if I get boosted and then get Covid? Can I throw caution to the wind then?

Wall said that if you’ve had an unprecedented infection, your immune system is well primed and ready to fight off the coronavirus when it encounters it again. Your body should be better prepared if you encounter Omicron again, but there is no absolute guarantee that you will be protected if, say, you wade into an undisguised crowd at a prom.

“We’re in the middle of a sudden storm,” Wall said. “This is the worst time to have people exposed around other people’s noses and necks.”

Plus, again, you can’t be sure that the virus you’re dealing with will be the same type you discovered before.

“The reason a person who has had and developed Covid would want to use common sense is that we don’t yet understand what other variables would be present and how they would react to it,” Cohen said.

Can I get a long Covid after Omicron? Or Can My Children Get MIS-C?

The Omicron variant is so new that experts don’t know anything about its long-term effects.

“We don’t know yet,” Snyder said. “It is too early to tell.”

Research has found that vaccination reduces the risk of developing long-term COVID symptoms. Other studies say the most severe effects of COVID-19, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), resolve within six months.

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