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Doctors worried having COVID-19 may not protect against 2nd infection with variant

State health officials report 450 new cases of coronavirus Thursday
Posted at 7:33 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:42:57-05

As we see new variants of the coronavirus pop up around the country, doctors are now raising concerns about reinfection rates, as well as protection from vaccines.

In South Africa, researchers found 2% of people who got COVID-19 again were infected with a new variant.

Doctors remind people that having been infected once isn't enough to prevent someone from becoming infected again. They've also found the variant first identified in South Africa specifically may not hold up well against the vaccine.

“It is less efficacious, as far as acquiring the disease, but it seems to hold up as far as getting the severe disease where you end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Edgar Sanchez at Orlando Health.

Most doctors, including Anthony Fauci, agree that this is not enough of a reason to not get vaccinated.

Both Fauci and Sanchez say right now, vaccines are our best defense against variants.

“It seems that getting vaccinated, you may still get the virus, you may still transmit it to others, even get mild disease from it. But getting that severe disease where you end up in the hospital, even our current vaccines seem to work well against these types of variants,” said Sanchez.

Even after getting vaccinated, it's important to continue taking all precautions.

Right now, many states are not tracking or looking at possible cases of reinfection.

Kaiser Health News found less than a dozen states are actively monitoring for reinfection.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise states to investigate possible reinfection when someone tests positive for COVID-19 at least 90 days after the first infection. But experts say the U.S. lacks the capacity to handle this type of genetic sequencing needed.

Learn more about COVID-19 reinfection from the CDC here.