Ask Dr. Nandi: Can you be infected by BA.4/5 after recovering from BA.2?

Posted at 3:43 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 17:30:45-04

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — COVID-19’s omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 are gaining ground and people want to know if it's possible to get infected with either BA.4 or BA.5 after recovering from BA.2.

Dr. Partha Nandi, chief health editor, has the answers to keep you safe. 

I get asked that question quite often by patients. Unfortunately, there are quite a few mutations between some of the omicron variants. So, someone who was infected with BA.2, for example, is likely not protected against BA.4 or BA.5. Newer variants are very good at overcoming immunity, even if immunity came from vaccines, a prior infection, or both.

On the positive side, infectious disease experts say there is less of a chance of getting reinfected with BA.4 after being infected with BA.5 or vice versa. And that’s because these two variants share some key mutations.

But, how quickly you can get reinfected with any variant depends on a few factors like, age, immune response to the initial infection, amount of time since the first infection and the timing of becoming fully vaccinated and boosted. And while there are no definitive studies regarding how long immunity lasts, experts predict protection against reinfection is somewhere around a couple of weeks to a month depending on the variant and the factors mentioned above.

As more people are approved to receive a forth booster, should they get one now or wait for cases to rise in the fall to get boosted? 

I know there is booster fatigue, but I support getting boosted now and,not waiting. Some may think a booster is useless because they’re less effective against omicron and because immunity wanes quicker than before. However, boosters still provide protection against severe disease and death.

Right now, there’s an average of 300 deaths a day from COVID-19. Three hundred deaths may not sound like a lot, but the virus has killed more than twice the amount of Americans each day when compared to suicides or deaths resulting from car crash. And those most at risk are adults 65-years-old and up. In fact, they have accounted for a larger share of deaths this year than last year. Plus, unvaccinated people are still dying at higher rates than vaccinated people.

It’s never too late to get vaccinated and boosted. Everyone ages 5 years old and up can get their first booster after they’re fully vaccinated. Adults 50 years old and up and people 12 years old and up who are moderately or severely immunocompromised are eligible to get a second booster.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.