In late 2021, scientists began studying the phenomena known as “super immunity,” which referred to cases of superior protection after previously being infected with COVID-19. They found that people who had prior infections developed antibodies that were naturally able to ward off new variants, similar to the immunity provided by vaccines.
Since then, health authorities have relied on the factualness of super immunity, saying that individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 were immune or, at the very least, protected from severe symptoms of delta and Omicron variants.
But recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 10 early cases of people with prior COVID-19 infections who were consequently reinfected with Omicron. This finding raises questions about how long super immunity lasts.
A Closer Look at COVID-19 Reinfections
According to the CDC report, the 10 identified cases were comprised of patients who were infected with the delta variant between October 2021 and January 2022. Their succeeding Omicron infections took place three months later, with nine out of 10 patients having symptomatic initial infections and eight with symptomatic second infections as well.
From this handful of cases, the CDC estimates the intervals between infections to range from 23 to 87 days. This is in stark contrast to initial beliefs that super immunity can last for several months after the initial infection.
What the CDC Report Tells Us
The CDC provided a disclaimer that the data obtained may not be generalizable to the entire U.S. population because of the small sample of 10 cases. The age group studied was also relatively young, with the median age being 11 years old.
However, what the report shows without a doubt is that there is a limit to the level of protection and immunity provided by prior COVID-19 infections. And with that, the CDC stresses that vaccination is still the safest way to prevent reinfection with future COVID-19 strains.