We all know that one guy or gal who swears they had COVID-19 in the weeks or months before anyone had even heard of it.
But there are millions of others who never tested positive for the coronavirus but are convinced they had an infection during the pandemic.
I have some good news if you DID catch COVID-19 along the way. The science shows you have some pretty good protection from future infection… for a while anyway.
And that protection is even better still if you’ve had the coronavirus and you’re vaccinated. Both could help reduce your risk of catching the virus again. And that same tag team can help keep you out of the hospital if you get sick anyway.
But now for the reality check. If you were sick at some point over the last couple of years and are convinced it was the coronavirus, you may want to think again.
Because new numbers show that many people who believe they had a COVID-19 infection but were NEVER tested for it actually had something else entirely.
And that’s a problem. Because believing you have an immune system that’s charged up and ready to fight the variants when you don’t can lead to risk-taking.
What to do if you THINK you had COVID-19
Omicron numbers are fading. And despite the emergence of BA.2, there’s a hint of optimism for a spring without another full-on COVID-19 surge.
But you also shouldn’t throw caution entirely out the window.
Sure, things are looking pretty good right now. But the numbers are still high. There’s still plenty of infection circulating out there, and, sadly, there are still deaths occurring daily.
The biggest risk remains among what scientists call the “immune naive.” Those are folks who’ve never had a COVID-19 infection and didn’t ever get vaccinated.
Everyone else can breathe at least a little sigh of relief and start to enjoy some degree of cautious normalcy for now.
But if you’ve never had a positive COVID-19 test don’t assume you’re protected. You still need to stay extra vigilant. Because you might be among the “immune naive” yourself, without even realizing it.
Don’t rely on past infection immunity
In the new study, researchers tested…
- people who had confirmed COVID-19 infections
- folks who were never sick
- people who were ill weren’t tested but are convinced they had the virus
Unsurprisingly, 99 percent of those who had COVID-19 that was confirmed by a test did indeed have the infection. That shows us how rare “false positives” actually are.
Also, it wasn’t surprising that 11 percent of the participants who had never been sick still had COVID-19 antibodies. After all, we knew there are asymptomatic cases. That meant these volunteers were exposed to the virus and had a low-level infection with no symptoms.
But it turns out we’re not the best judge of our own illnesses, at least not when it comes to COVID-19. Because nearly HALF of those who were convinced they had the infection never actually had the virus.
Maybe they’d battled a nasty cold or the flu. But whatever it was, it wasn’t COVID-19.
So if you’re relying on a past infection for protection, but it was never confirmed by a lab test, it’s a good idea to consider getting the vaccine if you haven’t yet.
As I said earlier, the combination of the two is your best protection. But the COVID-19 vaccine alone is still very protective against more severe disease cases.
And if you’re vaccinated and think you had an unconfirmed breakthrough case, you should still consider a booster. I’m not going to pressure you into it, of course. Everyone has a right to decide what’s best for their own body, period.
But if you want some peace of mind, the COVID-19 vaccine and booster are clearly the best path. They’ll slash your risk of being among the folks still getting sick and those still going to the hospital.
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