Are You Immune From COVID-19 If You Tested Positive For The Omicron Variant?

As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to spread like wildfire around the US, many are wondering if getting it and recovering from it will mean that they can finally rest easy. Will the rapid spread of Omicron finally get us to the point of herd immunity, marking the shift of COVID-19 in society from 'pandemic' to 'endemic'?

Scientists are not yet certain – but there are signs indicating that that might be the case. In South Africa and the United Kingdom, where the highly infectious Omicron variant first spread rapidly, cases shot up quickly, but also came down quickly, indicating that infection did in fact provide some level of protection against reinfection (via People).

According to CNBC, a South African study concluded that infection with Omicron likely provides significant protection not only against the infecting virus, but against the more severe Delta variant as well. The protection is even stronger for people who have been vaccinated. Professor Paul Hunter, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of East Anglia, told Yahoo! News that "Infection – whether with Omicron or any other variant – will boost your immunity. That immunity will be better against the same variant but will also boost immunity to other variants though less powerfully."

Omicron could spur the shift from 'pandemic' to 'endemic'

The big question, however, is how strong post-infection immunity is, and how long it will actually last. Since Omicron is still a fairly 'new' arrival, having been first detected in the US on December 1, data on the durability of immunity is limited. But there is reason to be hopeful.

Researchers from the UK estimated that, for the majority of people, immunity from a COVID-19 infection lasts at least 10 months, and possibly several years — though some people do experience reinfection within months (via The Sun). The good news is that, if reinfection does happen, it's likely to be less severe than it was the first time. Professor Hunter adds "We will be able to catch Omicron more than once, though subsequent infections will almost always be less severe than the first time round. Most people who catch Omicron can probably look forward to at least a year before catching it again."