I’m on a mission to keep the most precious thing in my house: my fiancée, who has never contracted the coronavirus. Through sheer luck and a healthy dose of horror, he managed to get through his first pandemic year without getting sick. Protected by a J&J vaccine and a Moderna booster, he survived the infection when I fell ill last November and coughed coronavirus throughout our cramped New York City apartment. Somehow, he got rid of the Omicron wave during the winter, when it seemed like everyone was getting sick. And in the past few months, he’s been unscathed by crowded weddings, indoor dinners, and flights across the country.
At this point, I’m concerned about how long it will take. People like him – I think they are “Covid virgins” – have become a rare breed. Just yesterday, President Joe Biden reduced their number by another person. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggests that as of earlier this month, 82 percent of Americans have had the coronavirus at least once. Some of these people may still be Think They’ve never had the virus: Asymptomatic infections occur, and sometimes mild symptoms such as allergies or a cold are ignored. Now that we’re battling BA.5, Omicron’s most contagious and vaccine-avoided branch to date, many people are facing a second, third, or even the fourth infections. This reality can make it seem as though extremists who have evaded infection for two and a half years are doomed to disease sooner rather than later. At this point, aren’t Covid virgins more than a sitting duck?
Admittedly, basic math doesn’t look promising. Most infected people now seem to develop the disease for the first time, although they are a distinct minority. Nationwide, we don’t have good data on who will get COVID, despite the first infections in New York It seems to happen At five times the rate of re-infection. Part of the reason those who haven’t had COVID are more susceptible to contracting the virus is that all other factors — vaccination, age, and behaviors — are considered to lack the immune bump that gives off a virus attack, no matter how transient that bump may be. This alone may indicate that these people are in fact sitting ducks who cannot avoid infection without seeking contact in complete isolation.
The experts I spoke with agreed that the risk of infection is currently high. “Now we’re finding that with the more transmissible variants, it’s becoming more and more difficult to avoid infection,” Robert Kim Farley, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, told me. “However, this is not inevitable.” Rick Bright, chief executive of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Institute for Epidemic Prevention, was less confident. “Honestly, it might be inevitable, the way the virus has kept changing,” he said.
However, they emphasized that we still don’t know exactly how vulnerable people who haven’t had COVID are – especially when BA.5 appears to be at risk. repeatInfect a lot of people. “I don’t know if I would call them sitting ducks, but I would say that all of us are more vulnerable,” Bright said. Unvaccinated people are still by far the most at risk, especially for more severe outcomes. But even in this pandemic, it’s hard to know exactly why some vaccinated and boosted people get sick while others don’t — good epidemiological behaviors may play a role, along with luck. Scientists are still investigating the role of other factors, including whether Genetics It may be Protecting people’s immune system who have not had COVID.
However, all experts argued that COVID virgins should still try to avoid infection. Above all, they should be aware of vaccinations and boosters. Once these layers of protection are in place, Kim Farley said, they should continue to be vigilant — especially in crowded indoor spaces — but unless they are medically compromised, they won’t have to take more precautions than anyone else.
The guidance for this group is pretty much the same as for everyone else because immunity to infection is protective, but only to an extent. BA.5, for example, seems to be able to re-infect people who were previously sick, sometimes even those who had a previous version of Omicron only a few months ago. At this point, having an infection from a year ago, let alone two years ago, may not mean much from an immunological standpoint. “People should not rely on previous infections, because they are not as effective as previous vaccinations,” Kim Farley said. Although “hybrid immunity” – which results when a person falls ill and then vaccinated, or vice versa – is believed to confer A good amount of protection“This kind of assertion may be challenged” now that so many infections have occurred again, Yale epidemiologist Albert Koe told me.
The ultimate problem with people who consider themselves sitting ducks is that this is the exact position that epidemiologists do. Not You want us to own. It can promote “why bother?” behavior, canceling all public health efforts to stop transmission and discouraging personal efforts to protect oneself. In other words, it promotes COVID fatalism, which is attractive because it provides relief from the daily anxiety and behavioral compromises of pandemic life by assuming that contagion is a matter whenNot if. This idea could be liberating for those who have never been infected — and presumably part of the reason why so few survive: So many have adopted position “meh” towards COVID, and not letting the fear of infection get in the way of their lives.
Even late in the game, you should really try to avoid getting COVID if you can. Having to take precautions can be frustrating several months into the life of an epidemic, but the disease can be very unpleasant, even if you have been vaccinated and boosted. There is a risk of catching Covid for a long time, Bright said, yes, but those who escape it still feel bad for days, if not weeks. This infection doesn’t usually lead to hospitalization or death, but it doesn’t walk in the garden either, especially for the elderly and the immunocompromised. And as COVID continues to mutate, you definitely want to prevent a second infection, or a third infection in the future. Consequences of recurring infections and they The possibility of causing COVID for a long time or other health problems are not yet a favour. And of course, the principles of COVID 101 still hold true: Even if your infection is mild, you can still spread it to someone who could be much worse.
The shocking fact is that as long as the virus shows no signs of abating, the number of COVID virgins will continue to shrink. Dealing with this reality would be much less stressful if we reframe the way we talk about COVID-19 infection. Instead of worrying about the virus as something that might come to you, focus on what to do when it does. Those who have been vaccinated may be sitting ducks in the crosshairs of infection, but they are more likely to not die or become seriously ill, especially if they are young and otherwise healthy. “That’s what we care about most,” Coe said. People who haven’t gotten sick should remember that they’ve already won—vaccines, along with the treatments available now, mean it’s much better to get sick now than it was a year or two ago.
When I told my fiancée that he could potentially contract COVID but should definitely try not to get COVID, he described the situation as “Kafka”. In fact, these are absurd and illogical times. But at the very least, focusing on what’s under our control can help us regain a modicum of meaning. Without complete isolation, people may not be able to do much to avoid the coronavirus forever, but there is still much they can do to escape the worst when it comes to them.