Interview

Want to just get the Omicron COVID variant and get it over with?

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Want to just get omicron and get it over with? Doctors say it’s not that simple. The omicron variant is more likely than delta to re-infect individuals who previously had COVID-19. Data show the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, infecting vaccinated and unvaccinated people at record rates.

Examining reinfection

“If someone gets omicron, they can absolutely get it again,” Straight Arrow News medical expert and cardiologist Dr. Payal Kohli said. “We have seen that with previous variants of the virus. And we think that that’s what’s going to happen with this one. Now, they probably won’t get it again immediately, because they do have some protection. But we know that because this is a cold virus, that protection can wane over time.”

Another thing that we’ve seen is that people who’ve had previous variants of the virus, such as the original Wuhan variant, or the Alpha variant, can get re-infected with the omicron variant,” she said. “We haven’t seen that as much with Delta, but it’s probably scientifically possible, because we know that the omicron variant has accumulated many mutations to evade the immune response. So some of those antibodies that we have from the Delta variant may not work as well. Plus, once you’ve had enough time go by, so if your delta infection was several months ago, those antibodies’ levels may have gone down over time, and you could potentially still catch omicron,” she said.

Omicron vaccine plans

Pfizer announced plans to provide an omicron-specific vaccine that would be available to the public in March.

“I’m so excited to hear about the news of the omicron-specific vaccine because I think it’s really going to help to give our immune system a bit of a software upgrade for those of us that have not had omicron,” Dr. Kohli added. “And for those of us that have already had omicron, what it’s going to do is flex your immune system’s muscle.”

“So really, I would recommend getting that vaccine, even if you’ve had omicron,” she advised. “Now, it remains to be seen what your rate of re-infectivity is. In other words, how much risk are you at for getting another omicron infection after you’ve already had one. We don’t yet know how long those antibodies last. But what we’ve seen with other variants is that they go away after a few months. So I absolutely would encourage most people even if they’ve had omicron, and that vaccine becomes available, and FDA approved, to go out and get it.”

WANT TO JUST GET OMICRON AND GET IT OVER WITH? 

IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY. 

OMICRON IS MORE LIKELY THAN DELTA TO REINFECT INDIVIDUALS WHO PREVIOUSLY HAD COVID-19. 

AND AS WE’VE SEEN, IT CAUSES BREAKTHROUGH INFECTIONS IN VACCINATED PEOPLE, WHILE ALSO ATTACKING THE UNVACCINATED AT ALARMING RATES.

FOR A LOOK AT HOW RE-INFECTION HAPPENS, WE ASKED OUR MEDICAL EXPERT, CARDIOLOGIST PAYAL KOHLI. DR. KOHLI, IF SOMEONE HAD OMICRON, OR DELTA OR THE ORIGINAL ALPHA COVID-19, COULD THAT PERSON GET SICK AGAIN?

DR. PAYAL KOHLI,STRAIGHT ARROW MEDICAL EXPERT: “If someone gets omicron, they can absolutely get it again. We have seen that with previous variants of the of the virus. And we think that that’s what’s going to happen with this one. Now, they probably won’t get it again immediately, because they do have some protection. But we know that because this is a cold virus, that protection can wane over time.”

DR. PAYAL KOHLI,STRAIGHT ARROW MEDICAL EXPERT: Another thing that we’ve seen is that people who’ve had previous variants of the virus, such as the original Wuhan variant, or the Alpha variant, can get re-infected with the omicron variant. We haven’t seen that as much with Delta, but it’s probably scientifically possible, because we know that the omicron variant has accumulated many mutations to evade the immune response. So some of those antibodies that we have from the Delta variant may not work as well. Plus, once you’ve had enough time go by, so if your delta infection was several months ago, those antibodies their levels may have gone down over time, and you could potentially still catch omicron.”

PFIZER EXPECTS TO HAVE AN OMICRON SPECIFIC VACCINE AVAILABLE IN MARCH. SHOULD WE GET THE VACCINE EVEN THOUGH WE’VE ALREADY HAD OMICRON?

DR. PAYAL KOHLI,STRAIGHT ARROW MEDICAL EXPERT: “I’m so excited to hear about the news of the Omicron specific vaccine because I think it’s really going to help to give our immune system a bit of a software upgrade for those of us that have not had omicron. And for those of us that have already had omicron, what it’s going to do is flex your immune system’s muscle. So really, I would recommend getting that vaccine, even if you’ve had Omicron. Now, it remains to be seen what your rate of re-infectivity is. In other words, how much risk are you for getting another omicron infection after you’ve already had one. We don’t yet know how long those antibodies last. But what we’ve seen with other variants is that they go away after a few months. So I absolutely would encourage most people even if they’ve had omicron. And that vaccine becomes available and FDA approved to go out and get it.”

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR DR KOHLI ON COVID OR OTHER HEALTH MATTERS, PLEASE ADD THEM TO THE COMMENTS BELOW.

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Want to just get omicron and get it over with? Doctors say it’s not that simple. The omicron variant is more likely than delta to re-infect individuals who previously had COVID-19. Data show the omicron variant is more transmissible than previous variants, infecting vaccinated and unvaccinated people at record rates.

Examining reinfection

“If someone gets omicron, they can absolutely get it again,” Straight Arrow News medical expert and cardiologist Dr. Payal Kohli said. “We have seen that with previous variants of the virus. And we think that that’s what’s going to happen with this one. Now, they probably won’t get it again immediately, because they do have some protection. But we know that because this is a cold virus, that protection can wane over time.”

Another thing that we’ve seen is that people who’ve had previous variants of the virus, such as the original Wuhan variant, or the Alpha variant, can get re-infected with the omicron variant,” she said. “We haven’t seen that as much with Delta, but it’s probably scientifically possible, because we know that the omicron variant has accumulated many mutations to evade the immune response. So some of those antibodies that we have from the Delta variant may not work as well. Plus, once you’ve had enough time go by, so if your delta infection was several months ago, those antibodies’ levels may have gone down over time, and you could potentially still catch omicron,” she said.

Omicron vaccine plans

Pfizer announced plans to provide an omicron-specific vaccine that would be available to the public in March.

“I’m so excited to hear about the news of the omicron-specific vaccine because I think it’s really going to help to give our immune system a bit of a software upgrade for those of us that have not had omicron,” Dr. Kohli added. “And for those of us that have already had omicron, what it’s going to do is flex your immune system’s muscle.”

“So really, I would recommend getting that vaccine, even if you’ve had omicron,” she advised. “Now, it remains to be seen what your rate of re-infectivity is. In other words, how much risk are you at for getting another omicron infection after you’ve already had one. We don’t yet know how long those antibodies last. But what we’ve seen with other variants is that they go away after a few months. So I absolutely would encourage most people even if they’ve had omicron, and that vaccine becomes available, and FDA approved, to go out and get it.”

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