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Did you have COVID-19? You could be reinfected by new variants

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that those who were previously infected with COVID-19 could become reinfected by new variants

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles that cause COVID-19.
This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that those who were previously infected with COVID-19 could become reinfected by new variants.
NIAID-RML via Associated Press

People who already were infected with COVID-19 could face reinfection if the new coronavirus variants become the dominant strains, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.

What’s going on?

Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CNN on Monday that the coronavirus variants in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil pose a risk to those who already had COVID-19.

In fact, Fauci told CNN that health officials in South Africa saw the variant there had a high rate of reinfection among previously-infected people.

  • “If it becomes dominant, the experience of our colleagues in South Africa indicate that even if you’ve been infected with the original virus that there is a very high rate of reinfection to the point where previous infection does not seem to protect you against reinfection,” Fauci said on CNN.

How vaccines could help

Fauci said the current vaccines can keep those variants from being too dominant, which could prevent reinfection, per Yahoo! News.

  • “Viruses cannot mutate if they don’t replicate. And if you stop their replication by vaccinating widely and not giving the virus an open playing field to continue to respond to the pressures that you put on it, you will not get mutations,” Fauci said at a White House COVID-19 response team briefing Monday, according to Yahoo! News.
  • “You need to get vaccinated when it becomes available as quickly and as expeditiously as possible throughout the country.”

Another way to stay safe

Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told NBC News’ “Today” show that double-masking “likely does” protect people more, especially from the variants that might be popping up, as I explained for the Deseret News.

  • “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told the “Today” show. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”