As research suggests that COVID-19 has infected roughly half of the Canadian population, the emergence of an even more contagious version of the virus means some people may be in for another round.
But questions remain about the prevalence of reinfection, and the short and long-term health impact that subsequent cases of the virus could have.
With cases on the rise, here’s what the experts had to say about the emerging evidence of reinfections.
Read more: 4th COVID-19 dose: What is the value of an additional booster?
The emergence of the Omicron variant ushered in a tsunami of infections that saw the proportion of the population with antibodies to the virus rise from seven per cent to 45 per cent between December 2021 and May 2022, according to an analysis published by Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force this month.
The task force’s co-chair, Catherine Hankins, said the jury is still out on how likely it is that this previously infected population will catch the virus again, particularly as the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron fuels a summer surge.
“All we know is that it can happen,” said Hankins, a professor at McGill University. “This particular variant is really capable of evading immunity, including immunity to its previous … subvariant.”
Prabhat Jha, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said early hopes that Omicron would act as a “benign natural booster,” spreading rapidly but causing only mild symptoms, did not bear out.
“As more evidence accumulates, it suggests that Omicron isn’t the great protector that we all thought it would be,” he said, citing data from the U.K.
Lynora Saxinger, a professor with the University of Alberta’s department of medicine,
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