People who don’t have COVID are more likely to get infected with XBB.1.5, and many will get reinfected, experts say

of Latest COVID-19 variants It’s so contagious that even people who have previously avoided it have become infected, and experts say that 80% of Americans already infected are likely to become infected again.

Paula Cannon, a virologist at the University of Southern California, says that no one in the country is currently infected, even if they are very careful, have the latest vaccine updates, or have been infected before. are at risk of infection.

Cannon is recovering from her first case of COVID-19, which was discovered while vacationing in her native England, and said it was “very contagious”.

“I doubt everything that has protected you over the past few years will protect you from this new variant,” she said.

Despite the high infection rate, the number of severe infections and deaths remains relatively low, she said, thanks to vaccination and possibly previous infections.

Let's take a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic stands, according to CDC data.

Let’s take a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic stands, according to CDC data.

of The latest variant called XBB.1.5It increased exponentially during December, from about 1% of cases nationwide to 40% as of Dec. 31, according to . Data from the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionThis variant may be behind the majority of cases in New York and New England.

Its growth is likely due to the properties of XBB.1.5 (which appears to bind more strongly to human receptors than its predecessor) and human behaviors such as travel and unmasking.

Dr. Ziyad Al-Ali, director of research and development for the VA St. Louis Health Care System and clinical epidemiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, says it’s a good idea to do what you can to avoid getting infected.

He said it is still early and there are many unknowns about XBB.1.5. All infections leave someone vulnerable to a bad course and lingering illness. Distressing symptoms of long COVIDAl-Aly studies show.

“Reinfection puts you at additional risk,” he said.

When the US enters t,Second year of COVID-19, provides up-to-date information on the pandemic situation. Here’s a preview of what you’ll learn in this article:

  • COVID symptoms and XBB.1.5

  • How long will COVID last?

  • Is it possible to have COVID more than once?

  • how to avoid infection

  • what to do if you get sick

  • Why you shouldn’t get infected

  • Could it be that we are nearing the end of COVID?

What you need to know about the symptoms of XBB.1.5 and their duration

COVID-19 symptoms It usually lasts about 5-7 days and can cause problems such as fever, sore throat, muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, cough, and sinus congestion.

Symptoms of XBB.1.5 are the same as previous variants and range from almost nothing to shortness of breath and low oxygen levels requiring urgent medical attention.

Early in the pandemic, COVID-19 often at least temporarily sacrifices people’s senses of taste and smell, but its symptoms are less common, perhaps due to vaccination or previous infections rather than changes in the virus. seems unlikely, says Dr. Peter Hotez. He is an infectious disease expert and co-director of the Vaccine Development Center at Texas Children’s Hospital.

How long does COVID last? How long is it contagious?

It takes 2 to 14 days from exposure to symptoms and positive tests.

People with COVID-19 are generally contagious for about 10 days, often longer, as long as they remain positive on a rapid test.

of Recommended by CDC People should quarantine for at least 5 days and wear N95 or similar protective masks for at least 10 days. Day One is considered the first full day after symptoms began.

Considered the gold standard for diagnosing COVID-19, the PCR test can remain positive for months because it detects not only the entire infectious virus, but also viral fragments. To confirm the end of the contagious period, experts instead recommend a negative rapid test within 48 hours after 10 or 2 days.

Is it possible to have COVID more than once?

yes. Previous infections offer some protection, but that fades over time and as the virus evolves into different subspecies.

Some people who were mildly ill the first time have a second or third infection that hits harder, while others don’t suffer as much.

“Even if you’ve had it before, that doesn’t mean your next match will be the same,” Cannon said. , she said, many factors are involved, including how long it’s been since the last infection or vaccination.

For example, her most recent infection may have been much milder than her husband’s. Because, for example, she had a cold in her head a few days ago, whereas her husband did not. Her respiratory virus was able to put her immune system on alert, which may have provided some protection when she was exposed to her COVID-19.

“It’s part of a larger dance between our bodies and our immune systems,” Cannon said.

how to avoid infection

The methods for avoiding infection haven’t changed, but it can be difficult to protect them when no one else is around, including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowded places.

First is vaccination. Hotez, who is also dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said this could prevent severe infections and reduce the risk of passing the virus on to others.

of new boostertargets both the original virus and the BA.4/BA.5 variants common this summer, and is more protective against XBB.1.5 than previous boosters. He added that people with up-to-date vaccinations for COVID-19 probably don’t shed the virus for that long, so they’re also less likely to get infected.

While past infections offer some protection against serious illness, that protection is “very unreliable,” Hotez said.

The second is wearing a mask. High-quality, well-fitting masks such as N95 and KN95 can reduce the risk of infection.

N95 and KN95 masks offer more protection compared to other masks.

N95 and KN95 masks offer more protection compared to other masks.

Cannon said people sometimes get upset about her wearing a mask. But she doesn’t want to accidentally pass COVID on to someone who may be more vulnerable to the virus.

Third, avoid crowded indoor spaces. Infection is less likely in large indoor spaces with high ceilings and good ventilation than in cramped, airless spaces.

what to do if you get sick

It’s a good idea to have a plan in case you do get sick, Cannon said.

  • How to isolate yourself from the rest of your family

  • Contact numbers for health care providers who can prescribe antiviral medications

  • Rapid tests for coronavirus, extra masks, thermometers, pulse oximeters and other equipment to ensure patients’ blood oxygen levels do not drop below 90 degrees

Every U.S. household is eligible for four free coronavirus tests from the government that can be ordered through this link.

If you’re over 60 or have a medical condition, such as obesity, that increases your risk of serious illness, the first step after testing positive is to call your doctor and get tested. antiviral paxrovid, she and others said. The government has pre-purchased millions of doses so you can get it for free.

This image provided by Pfizer in October 2021 shows the company's COVID-19 Paxlovid pill that patients can take at home to avoid the worst effects of the virus.

This image provided by Pfizer in October 2021 shows the company’s COVID-19 Paxlovid pill that patients can take at home to avoid the worst effects of the virus.

Some doctors are hesitant to offer antivirals because they may need to stop taking common medications during the five-day course of treatment, but people at high risk of serious illness “Older people taking paxlovid aren’t dying,” he said.

“You can’t stop people from getting infected,” Cannon added.

Why you shouldn’t get infected

Every time you get COVID-19, your risk of serious illness increases. long covidIt can cause debilitating symptoms that can last for a year or more.

More than 3,500 people in the United States have died from prolonged COVID-19, the CDC reports.

More than 3,500 people in the United States have died from prolonged COVID-19, the CDC reports.

Older people are more vulnerable, said Al-Aly, “but younger people are not fully protected.” He said his long COVID can strike people of all ages, even from childhood until he was 101, who was recently treated at his hospital.

Vaccination reduces long-term COVID risk by 15% to 30%. His recently published researchAnother study he’s working on shows that paxlovid reduces risk by 26%.

Cannon’s daughter has worked in a long COVID clinic and regularly sees patients in their 20s or 30s.

All six experts interviewed by USA TODAY this week dismissed the idea that getting infected has any benefits. , vaccination offers better protection without risk, Al-Aly said.

And getting the virus doesn’t bring any benefit, Cannon said.

“I hope I never catch the virus again. I say this as a professional virologist.”

Could it be that we are nearing the end of COVID?

According to Cannon, COVID-19 is perhaps the most successful virus in human history, infecting billions of people on the planet.

She worries about how it will continue to evolve, but hopes it’s a good sign that last year all variants were descendants of omicron.

Prior to that, the original viruses Alpha, Beta and Delta were “fundamentally” different from each other.

“The virus is now in this dedicated lineage,” Cannon said. Almost everyone is now infected from vaccination or previous infections.

Please contact Karen Weintraub at [email protected]

Health and patient safety coverage on USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial opinion.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY. Variant XBB: Updates to know about the latest COVID symptoms, infections