Covid reinfection rates rising

The Rising Risk of COVID Reinfection – What the Numbers Mean

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic the daily reporting dashboard which records positive COVID cases in the UK has also included reinfections as part of the data, and it offers some food for thought.

Monday’s figure of 92,368 cases far exceeded Sunday’s 52,295 positive cases – the lowest figure since before Omicron peaked on 14th December last year – having made changes to the way that positive cases and COVID reinfections are registered in the UK.

While Wales have been classifying anyone who tests positive again more than 42 days after their first positive test as positive statistics when reporting COVID cases, England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have never included such figures around reinfection rates.

We can see that in doing so, the figure of positive cases around the country almost doubled. So, what does this suggest?

What do the experts say on COVID reinfections?

‘Of course, reinfection is possible – and we’re seeing more and more cases of this since the arrival of the arrival of the Omicron variant. Vaccines and prior infection may offer only limited protection against new and emerging variants. We have seen countless people still contract the virus despite completing a full round of vaccinations, and even those that have already tested positive are getting reinfected again. We are not just talking about a few examples of this, it’s much more common than many of us were perhaps aware.'

'Case rates are under reported. people are often reluctant to miss work and lose their personal income, meaning that businesses and the individuals that work within them are potentially placed at greater risk of exposure to the virus. This potentially puts business owners one step away from a wider, and much more problematic spread of the virus, that can dramatically impact their operational efficiency, but moreover puts the health and safety of staff and customers at significant risk.’

Dr Adam Al-Khafaji MBChB BSc MRCEM MRCGP PGCert (Testbase Medical Director)

When asked about the perception of COVID reinfection, and the issues that milder, but more contagious variants bring, Dr Al-Khafaji shares ‘It’s often hard to gauge the true number of people that are infected, especially with more mild variants such as Omicron circulating in the population, since many individuals will be asymptomatic. There is a clear perception out there that you can’t get it twice or they have full protection if they have completed their vaccinations, so some people despite being symptomatic, lean into this belief and opt to not re-test because they feel they are protected, when they could well be positive, and exposing their friends, families, and colleagues to infection.’

‘This could cause serious problems for organisations, particularly with infectivity increasing with newer and emerging variants.’

So amidst rising rates of reinfection, what is Dr Al-Khafaji’s advice for business owners?

‘Seeing these new figures around reinfection, it’s perhaps easier for people to grasp the risk that comes with newer variants such as Omicron. Testing remains the most effective way to ensure that you and your staff are COVID free. There’s so much data out there, that when it comes to the health and safety of your organisation, your family or wider community it really isn’t worth taking risks, because the consequences could be devastating, on both a personal and organisational level.’

Dr Adam Al-Khafaji MBChB BSc MRCEM MRCGP PGCert (Testbase Medical Director)

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