COVID-19 infection will only provide limited immunity, Thai expert warns

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BANGKOK — An infectious disease expert has said patients who have recovered from Covid-19 can be reinfected, but how quickly depends a lot on the subvariant they were exposed to.

If you have been infected with Omicron BA.1 or 2 before, you could be infected again with the BA.4 or 5 subvariant within a month of recovery,” Dr. Thiravat Hemachuda said on Monday in a message on Facebook. “However, if you recover from a BA.4 or 5 infection, the immunity you have acquired can protect you from re-infection with the same subvariants for two to three months.”

Thiravat is the director of the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Center at Chulalongkorn University.

“For this reason, the speed at which Covid-19 spreads will depend on how the virus evolves in the future. It is estimated that by September and October of this year, we can expect to see a new sub-variant of Omicron or a whole new variant,” he added.

Thiravat added that the second-generation Covid-19 vaccines under development aim to prevent infection with Omicron BA.1-2 and BA.4-5. However, by the time these vaccines are released, the Covid-19 virus may have mutated further, rendering these vaccines ineffective.

“Therefore, we need to work together on three aspects to stay safe from Covid-19,” Thiravat said. “The first is to prevent infection by avoiding high-risk places and wearing a face mask. Second, get at least three doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, preferably an mRNA vaccine to push your immunity as high as possible. And third, seek treatment immediately to prevent the virus from affecting other parts of the body. Proper treatment will help the body to build immunity against the virus faster.

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