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Can you get the omicron variant twice?

The omicron variant may cause reinfection. But can you get omicron more than once?

An illustration for the omicron variant.
The omicron variant may cause reinfection. But can you get omicron more than once?
Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

The omicron variant continues to rage through the United States, leading to new pandemic records and high COVID-19 case numbers. On top of that, the peak of the virus’ wave might not happen for another month.

  • This surely raises a question — can you get the omicron variant more than once?

For many COVID-19 strains, reinfection isn’t a common side effect. In fact, the omicron variant has been spreading so fast because, as early research suggests, it has the power to reinfect those who have natural immunity.

  • It’s still unclear if the omicron variant provides good immunity to itself, though.
  • Experts have said the potential for reinfection is much higher among those with natural immunity compared to previous variants.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told KHOU 11 that researchers are unsure what immunity the omicron variant gives people.

  • “It’s unclear, at this point, what level of immunity occurs after an omicron infection. I suspect over time, yes, you probably can get reinfected. But we don’t have that data yet because omicron has only been around since October/November.”

However, the omicron variant might offer immunity for other COVID-19 variants. For example, a study suggests that the omicron variant of the coronavirus can give immunity to the delta variant, which means the delta variant could soon lose its hold on the American people, according to Reuters.

At the same time, recent research — published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association — found that breakthrough infections of the delta variant created “a robust immune response against the delta variant.”

  • Researchers said this level of immunity “is likely to be highly effective against other variants as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate.” Though the data was about the delta variant, it was suggested that this could apply to the omicron variant, too.

For now, experts still recommend masking up to stay safe from COVID-19 and getting your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.