‘Infection doesn’t protect you’: it’s twice as common to have COVID when immunity is low – Canada News

Christine Ains said she was shocked when a rapid test showed she had tested positive for COVID-19.

Enns, who received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster shot, already had the virus in early February and thought reinfection was rare.

“I started feeling sick three to four days ago thinking, ‘This sounds like COVID.’ I did five tests and … today it came back positive,” the bakery owner said Friday from his home in Warren, Mann, about 45 kilometers north of Winnipeg.

“It came as a surprise to me because I had put all the stuff on not to get it. Now that I’ve had it twice, I don’t feel quite invincible.”

Re-infection of COVID-19 was considered unusual, but then came the Omicron version.

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said last week, “Because Omicron is so isolated, a previous infection doesn’t protect you.”

He said public health data suggests 10 percent of infected Canadians who have recently had BA.2 — a sub-variant of Omicron — previously had BA.1 or a previous infection, such as the Delta variant.

This is in line with recent studies conducted in England that suggest 10 per cent of the reported cases are re-infections.

“While just showing you were once an Omicron, it doesn’t mean you’re bulletproof now,” Shahab said.

Not all provinces publicly report re-infection rates. However, in Ontario, Public Health says that about 12,000 people have twice acquired COVID-19 since November 2020, with the current risk of reinfection deemed “high”.

Quebec’s National Institute of Public Health says the number of reinfections in its province has increased significantly since Omicron’s arrival.

In a January report, Quebec reported 32 re-infections for every 1,000 primary infections, with nearly 9,000 people suspected of being re-infected since May of 2020.

Unlike other variants, Omicron is much better at working around immunity that is induced by either vaccines or previous infections, said Nazim Muhajrin, an epidemiologist at the University of Saskatchewan.

“Not only is it being able to evade immunity, but it is happening at a time when people’s immunity is going down,” Muhajrin said, adding that it has been three to five months since most Canadians took their Completed two-dose vaccine series.

“It’s a double threat there, and that’s why we’re seeing so many retransmissions with Omicron.”

Health officials continue to suggest that people complete their two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series and be increased with a third dose and, if eligible, a fourth shot.

“The vaccine works really well against serious consequences” such as hospitalization and death, said Shahab.

“Even if you’ve had COVID at some point in the past, you can wait anywhere from two weeks to three months to get a booster.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada says that nationwide, about 47 percent of eligible people have received a third dose.

Despite having COVID-19 twice, Enns said she would get a second booster if she became eligible.

“I think if I hadn’t had the vaccinations, I definitely would have been in the hospital,” said Ains, who is considered at risk because she has type 2 diabetes and asthma.

Ains recalled knowing an uninfected man who died alone in the hospital due to COVID-19, calling the experience “horrifying”.

“You think, ‘That could be me.’ But I’m not. I’m at home and sick, but I’ll live.”

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