I had COVID-19. Do I still need Omicron Booster?

With the Omicron versions are streamable right now cause almost all Among the COVID-19 cases in the United States, most people are likely to be infected, even if they have been vaccinated and boosted. So people naturally ask if they really need to get latest booster shot, was the first to target the Omicron variant. Most people assume that after recovering, they have built up a pretty good immunity to the virus.

While that’s true, researchers are learning more about the different types of immunity that natural infection with the virus confers, compared to that provided by vaccines and boosters. Studies show that after being infected with a particular strain of SARS-CoV-2, people tend to develop significant levels of virus-fighting antibodies against that version of the virus. In some cases, that response may even be broad enough to protect against a wide range of different strains of the virus. If you get infected, the immune system reacts to all the different proteins the virus makes. On the other hand, when you are vaccinated, your body only responds to the viral targets that the vaccine targets, which is a more limited set of viral genes. That’s why the original vaccine, containing genetic information from the first widely circulated strain of SARS-CoV-2, no longer seems to protect people from infection with the latest variants of the virus. withdraw, namely Omicron BA.4 / 5.

Read more: Should You Combine Omicron Boosters? Here’s what you need to know

But there is a caveat to that potential advantage of natural contagion. The immune response the body produces also correlates with the amount of virus the body sees. So if someone is exposed to and infected with a large amount of the virus, the body will produce a stronger, broader response than if someone were infected with a small amount of SARS-CoV-2. That means that not all natural infections are created equal, and there is generally no way for people to know what level of exposure they have been exposed to after being infected. That information comes from lab-based PCR tests that measure viral load, and most people don’t go to a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital anymore to get tested for COVID-19, instead. home testing using rapid antigen tests, which are not designed to provide information about viral load.

One year 2021 research even found that not all infected people necessarily develop antibodies against the virus; In that trial, conducted with volunteers recruited at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, about one-third did not develop detectable antibody levels even after a positive PCR test. COVID-19. The researchers found that the more severe the symptoms people experienced, the more likely they were to make antibodies, and that many people infected with recent Omicron variants experience mild or no symptoms at all. This means that people without these symptoms may not make much. levels of antibodies.

Read more: Here’s Why Experts Believe The New Omicron Booster Will Work

There is also the question of how long protection from natural infection lasts. Regardless of whether you were naturally infected or vaccinated, studies show that levels of antibodies, which are the first line of defense in protecting against infection, wane after a few months. It is also possible that the vaccine induces a deeper type of immunity that includes not only antibodies but also another type of immune cell called T cells that can remember and mount positive responses. with a virus that it recognizes if people are reinfected. One year 2021 research found that people who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and remained unvaccinated were more than twice as likely to be reinfected than those who were vaccinated after having COVID-19.

The bottom line is that any immunity, whether from a natural infection or from a vaccine, doesn’t last forever. And because COVID-19 is a relatively new disease, researchers are still trying to analyze how the body responds to the virus and what kind of immunity the immune system produces. As that data develops, the most sensible strategy at this point is to continue to strengthen immunity to get the best possible protection from getting infected with SARS-CoV-2 or becoming seriously ill. It means get booster dose even if you are already infected, about three months after you recover.

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