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Can you get omicron twice? Experts say yes

The BA.5 omicron subvariant can evade antibodies, which is why people can expect a reinfection sooner than before

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An illustration of COVID-19.

Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

COVID-19 is making headlines again as hospitalizations shoot upwards because of a new omicron subvariant, the BA.5, which makes up 81% of all cases reported in the U.S.

The current seven-day average for hospitalizations floats much above 6,000, even though the number of new admissions is still lower than the 21,000 new patients during the omicron wave in January. Meanwhile the seven-day average number of deaths inches closer to 400 per day.

During Monday’s COVID-19 Response Coordination press conference, Dr. Ashish Jha said that “most deaths are happening in people who are not up to date with their vaccines.”

“Our existing vaccines continue to provide robust protection against serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths. And because protection wanes over time, it is crucial for people to get a booster to stay up to date,” said Jha, adding that those over 50 or severely immunocompromised should get all their vaccinations right away.

Can you get omicron twice?

In the past, experts were confident that, while reinfection is possible, the first two months after infection can keep you protected. With BA.5, that is changing.

“We used to say that if you got infected, you had about a 90-day warranty. And it wasn’t a warranty ironclad but high likelihood that you weren’t going to get reinfected within 90 days,” said Jha. Since the new strain is “immune-evasive,” more people are getting reinfected, and faster.

“If you got infected with a BA.2 or a BA.1, getting reinfected with BA.5 within 90 days is very common,” he said.

What are the other omicron subvariants to look out for?

Apart from BA.5, which makes up a majority of cases, BA.4 has a hold over more than 12% of all infections, while BA.2.12.1 accounts for 5%. BA.2, BA.1.1.529 and BA.1.1 aren’t found in new cases anymore.

Additionally, the BA.2.75, an omicron subvariant with many mutations, is expected to be the next variant casing a wave, according to inewsource.

What are the top omicron symptoms to look out for?

As I previously reported, omicron subvariants have a shorter incubation period, which is why the symptoms may appear earlier. The worst symptom is a “throat on fire,” said UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

The most common omicron-related symptoms are:

  • Cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Congestion.
  • Runny nose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed common symptoms for COVID-19. The symptoms are:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Cough.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headache.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Congestion or runny nose.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.