Why COVID-19 reinfections are common; doctors say ‘no limit’ on reinfections

Updated: Aug. 27, 2022 at 10:52 PM EDT
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If you’ve had COVID-19 more than once, you’re certainly not alone. Reinfections are becoming more common.

“Viruses are very smart. If they are actively infecting a large swath of our population, there are active mutations that keep on happening in these viruses,” said Abhijit Duggal, MD, critical care specialist for Cleveland Clinic. “This is something that has been described very well, even before COVID.”

Dr. Duggal further explains that once you’re infected, your immune system will remember that specific variant. However, if a new one comes along, it may be harder to detect – which can lead to reinfection. He said it’s very similar to how influenza changes every year.

So, what can someone do to help protect themselves?

Dr. Duggal said all the same precautions still apply, like wearing a mask, social distancing when possible and regularly washing your hands.

The same goes for getting vaccinated and boosted. While the vaccine may not be able to prevent COVID completely, it will help lessen the severity of illness.

“When it comes to vaccination, it’s not just a matter of infection, it is a matter of severity of infection. And that is something that has been shown time and time again through these variants, that if you are vaccinated and boosted appropriately, the risk of severe infection goes down significantly,” he said.

Dr. Duggal said there’s no telling how many times an individual can get COVID-19, which is why it’s important to protect yourself.