Yet another Covid quandary
July 26, 2022 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Covid has hit our household twice in a row. Questions about infectiousness within.

I tested positive for Covid on July 8 via antigen test. My partner and I slept apart and wore masks during this time. Cough, super low fever (100.5) for a couple nights, tired. No sore throat. I still have a leftover cough (I have asthma as well). Overall not a particularly bad time. I was fully and regularly testing negative by July 21 (possibly earlier but did not have access to tests).

Today, July 26, partner tests positive for Covid via antigen test. He tested negative yesterday. Dry throat but feels okay otherwise. Not sure if he picked it up from me, or elsewhere.

I am still testing negative. Any idea on how much protection I have, after being infected so recently? Several important people are in town (my sister and a good friend), and I would love to see them after 3+ years, but can also understand if this is not advisable. I am assuming we both had/have BA5 but I cannot be sure. Thanks for any insight!
posted by sucre to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Reinfection so early on (two weeks, right?) is not very common, but it does happen. I don't think anyone can give you exact numbers; reinfection continues to be studied, but there simply hasn't been time to have full confidence in precise estimates. If your concern is picking it up again from your husband and passing it on to your sister/friend, that's a call you should let your sister/friend make, with full information, of course. They will better know for themselves whether they see catching COVID as a "never event" to be avoided at all costs (probably not, if they're traveling for pleasure), or a risk they are willing to encounter to see their sister/good friend after so long. (Obviously, if you see them, you should see them away from your home and partner!)
posted by praemunire at 9:34 AM on July 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It would be wise and kind to wear a well fitted N95 and to advise them to also mask while you visit and pick an outdoor activity. Even though you are unlikely to pick up a full blown infection, that doesn’t mean you won’t have little viruses doing their damndest to try. I would personally be leery, but willing to see you with full disclosure and safety precautions. I would be very peeved if I found out after the fact and hadn’t been given an opportunity to make my own choices.
posted by Bottlecap at 9:56 AM on July 26, 2022 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I would test everyday. If you are negative, meet your sister on whatever terms she suggests based on you giving her complete information.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:09 AM on July 26, 2022 [7 favorites]

Best answer: I've read that people are getting reinfected as soon as 20 days after the first infection. It doesn't sound like there's much post-infection immunity at all with omicron 5. I would not see your family, or at least give them fair warning, everyone masked, outside, keeping their distance, if you do.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:30 AM on July 26, 2022

Response by poster: thanks so much everyone! I have been fully transparent with everyone involved, and I’m letting them decide how to proceed. Appreciate all the solid advice.
posted by sucre at 10:45 AM on July 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've read that people are getting reinfected as soon as 20 days after the first infection. It doesn't sound like there's much post-infection immunity at all with omicron 5. I would not see your family, or at least give them fair warning, everyone masked, outside, keeping their distance, if you do.

This is very misleading--according to several of those results, people were infected with Delta and then Omicron. Delta is pretty much gone from the United States at this point.
posted by rhymedirective at 11:00 AM on July 26, 2022 [8 favorites]

My experience is that most people will not care at all in this scenario. I think you’d know already if they were really cautious. But it’s good form to mention it.
posted by haptic_avenger at 12:17 PM on July 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is what rapid tests are for, and they remain an excellent proxy for infectiousness. If you're testing daily and testing negative, then I think you can proceed without much concern.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:02 PM on July 26, 2022

Chances of catching the same variant again are practically nil. Not actually nil (there is always some outlier somewhere, or some combination of circumstances, often involving a compromised immune system in some way), but very, very close.

The chances of catching a different variant are somewhat higher. Still low, but above nil. People will point to specific examples of this happening, and they are there. But if you look at the overall stats, the chances of reinfection (even with a different variant) are still very markedly lower for a first few months after infection.

So if spouse caught Covid from you, or otherwise caught the same variant, you're pretty much in "don't worry about it" territory.

If spouse somehow caught a different variant, you are still in "low risk" territory. Not "no risk" but I would probably classify it as "very low risk."

Exactly what you do with that information depends very much on your circumstances and risk tolerance - and those of the people you are meeting.

If I had another 2 hours I could provide research and more exact numbers for all of the above information, but I don't have 2 hours, sorry!
posted by flug at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2022

It would be very rare for you to be infected twice within three weeks. I believe the fastest Omicron-Omicron reinfection was 20 days (in a Danish study). So it's possible, but you would have to be remarkably unlucky (literally the unluckiest person known in the world for this if we're talking about tomorrow). It's also less likely because you probably had BA.4/5 and the 20-day record is for BA.1 followed by BA.2, i.e. two different variants.

I'd feel confident in saying you are much less likely to be infected than a person selected at random right now. Doesn't hurt to take a test and you should definitely disclose, but this is very low risk.
posted by ssg at 6:18 PM on July 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Epidemiologist here. There is, understadably, a lot of jumbled information here.

Reinfection rates and probabilities are hard to quantify at any given time because it's hard to keep up with population studies that refelct regional differences in the distribution of virus mutations. I offer two points to consider. (1) There's an underreported figure that weighs hevily in most peoples' decision-making on risk tolerance, though, that I think is helpful to keep in mind: only about half of people who are reinfected develop symptoms the second time around (and again, this is a moving target and hard to quantify but this number is always going to be nonzero). (2) A trend of new variants is toward earlier transmissibility, inching further and further before the onset of symptoms, so that limits the value of rapid testing as a frontline defense against exposing others when you know you've been exposed.

Transparency is a good thing, but if you meet up it's a very sensible, defensible, responsible thing to wear a mask and try your best to mitigate other exposure variables (e.g. outside, or windows open, ventilaion-aware, etc.).

Hang in there.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:37 AM on July 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Dancing with myself   |   Buying insect extermination supplies in Canada Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.