New COVID variant's 'superpower is reinfection'

Hand holding a positive antigen test for COVID-19.
Hand holding a positive antigen test for COVID-19. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio and Audacy

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may feel like you can let your guard down a little more than usual – but that's probably not a good idea as the BA.5 variant becomes more dominant.

It is not an exact science, but the general thinking was that if you recently had COVID, your natural immunity would protect you from getting reinfected for about three months.

But UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong told KCBS Radio's "As Prescribed" on Thursday that it's time to rethink that.

"So because it's BA.5 taking over, if you got infected a few weeks ago it was likely BA52 or BA2.12.1," he said. "BA.5 is notorious. Its superpower is reinfection. So maybe you can get reinfected in about four weeks or longer."


He said the prevalence of the highly-transmissible variant makes it even more important for people over 50 to get their second booster shot. It helps protect against getting seriously ill from complications related to COVID-19 and may help prevent infection for at least a few weeks.

"If you top your antibodies off, sure, it's not 100% guaranteed, particularly in a BA 5 era," Chin-Hong explained. "But you do have more protection compared to somebody who's not boosted."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images