Is it time to rethink what we know about COVID-19 reinfection?

Forget what you thought you knew about catching COVID-19 more than once. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, keeps evolving – and so has information about your risk of being reinfected.

“Two years ago, we thought if you had COVID once that you would never get it again,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, an infectious disease physician at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. But especially with the variants that have become dominant in the U.S. this summer, that thinking no longer holds.

When it emerged last November, the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 showed an ability to reinfect people who’d had earlier versions of the virus. This summer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 are sweeping the U.S., with BA.5 accounting for the majority of COVID cases. Both appear to be even more adept than other omicron subvariants at evading the body’s defenses against infection.

Even having had an earlier version of omicron does not seem to protect against symptomatic infection from the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, Malani said. The subvariants also can infect vaccinated people.

“I have friends who have had COVID three times,” said Malani, who has co-written an ongoing series of updates about the virus for JAMA. “One of my kids had it twice.” And Malani herself recently tested positive for the first time, despite being up-to-date on her vaccinations.

The good news is that despite spreading more easily, the subvariants do not appear to cause more severe disease. And vaccination still protects against severe illness, especially hospitalizations and death.

Read the full story from American Heart Association: 

More good news: A new, more traditional vaccine is available. More than one out of five Americans still have not gotten a shot.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and went into isolation with mild symptoms. White House officials went all-out to show that the 79-year-old U.S. leader could power through the virus and keep working because he was vaccinated and boosted.

See for yourself how and where vaccinations are ramping up, plus how COVID-19 deaths are trending in your state and across the nation.

Note: With the decline in public testing sites and rise in unreported home tests, infection rates are widely believed to be undercounted.