When the Omicron variant hit the U.S. in late 2021, new cases and hospitalizations suddenly surged. The new year was welcomed with record-breaking numbers, with America averaging over 300,000 weekly cases. At the end of the Omicron surge, around 50% to 75% of Americans had contracted COVID.
But to date, there are still individuals who have not been infected. Scientists attribute this to their behaviors, vaccination, environmental factors, and genetics.
Why Some People Have Not Had COVID Yet
COVID-19, being a transmissible disease, can be avoided — something that millions of Americans have done effectively. Scientists think that’s owing to the following reasons:
According to Harvard Medical School associate professor of medicine, Dr. Mark Siedner, the percentage of the population that has not yet been infected with COVID-19 is very cautious and takes proper precautions. Their health behaviors include mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying home.
Siedner suspects that the people who have not contracted COVID-19 yet are largely homebound and have reduced interactions with others, thus reducing the risk of infection through transient encounters.
Experts say that people who have successfully avoided COVID-19 are likely fully vaccinated and boosted. Vaccines have been proven to prevent infection, and in cases where a vaccinated individual gets infected, the antibodies from their vaccines keep their symptoms mild to moderate to the point that they do not need to be hospitalized.
Frequent and prolonged exposure to other people increases the risk of contracting COVID-19. In the same manner, certain environments, such as poorly ventilated indoor spaces, foster the more efficient transmission of the virus.
Americans who have not been infected with COVID-19 may be on the safe side of these environmental consequences. Likely, they don’t engage in frequent and prolonged contact with others or interact in safer outdoor places.
John Hopkins University professor of medicine, Dr. Stuart Ray, thinks that genetics can be a factor in determining the risk of COVID-19 infection. Similar to the case of HIV that did not infect people with mutations in certain receptors, it can also be a possibility that some people are less susceptible to COVID than others.
Can They Ever Contract COVID?
Although some people have successfully evaded COVID-19 over the past two years, scientists say they may eventually get infected. The virus is constantly mutating into more infectious variants, and as such, the likelihood of infection is much more significant.
However, the risk is higher in people who have not been vaccinated. Because of the lack of immunity, the chances of them never contracting COVID is slim — until they receive their shots.