COVID-19 cases have surged around the world lately leaving more people than ever infected with the virus. This has raised a lot of questions about immunity against future COVID infections and whether positive cases really get something of a “grace period” post-COVID where they’re extra protected.
Let’s break down some of the facts and unknowns around COVID-19 immunity.
After getting COVID-19 are you immune?
The data around natural immunity after contracting COVID is conflicting.
As our pals at Pedestrian TV recently reported, it appears you are not completely immune to the virus, even after getting it, but research says you will have some level of protection.
Some studies say that those infected with COVID-19 can be immune to re-infection for up to six months. More conservative research put this estimate at just one month.
“We don’t really know much about Omicron itself in terms of immunity but we know from Delta and various other strains, if you’ve had the infection you’re unlikely to get another infection – unless a new variant appears – for many months, and even the risk of that occurring is very small,” ANU Medical School Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake told 2GB Radio earlier this month.
Some state health departments have put allowances in place for those who have contracted COVID. Currently, NSW Health says that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have a low risk of getting it again in the 28 days following release. Therefore, if you’ve recovered from COVID and come into contact with a positive case, or are determined a close contact, you do not need to isolate or get a test in that 28-day period, unless you have symptoms.
Those who have been infected with a particular variant should develop higher levels of immunity to that variant, however, that doesn’t prohibit them from being infected with a different COVID-19 variant.
“Infection with one variant generally provides a degree of protection from other variants. Therefore, infection with Omicron will provide the strongest protection against [reinfection with] Omicron — but also weaker protection against other variants,” Professor Davenport from the Kirby Institute’s Infection Analytics Program told the ABC.
Some research has likened the impact of getting COVID as being the equivalent of a booster shot to your immune system. That being said, it’s still incredibly important to get your booster vaccine.
Why you should still get a booster shot even if you’ve had COVID
Booster shots are being rolled out around the country and in some states, those who have had at least three months between their second dose can now come forward for their third jab.
That includes those who have contracted COVID previously. Here’s the official line from the Department of Health:
People who have had COVID-19 can be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination can be deferred for up to 6 months as past infection reduces the chance of reinfection for at least this amount of time.
It’s recommended you wait until after your COVID-19 symptoms have gone away to get your booster. But beyond this, the recommendation is that folks still sign up to get their booster shot.
Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and have had their booster dose are expected to have a very high level of immunity, which is why it’s important to come forward and get your vaccine when you’re eligible.