How soon can I be reinfected with Covid? When am I contagious, what are symptoms and how long immunity lasts

Reinfections are the second or subsequent Covid-19 infections

The UK is fighting a fifth wave of Covid as infections soar, with some contracting the virus for the first time and others experiencing Covid-19 reinfection.

But how soon after having Covid can you get it again?

Here’s what you need to know.

How soon after Covid can I be reinfected?

Reinfections are the second or subsequent Covid-19 infections.

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The emergence of new variants and immunity from previous infection and immunisation reducing over time means that reinfection with Covid-19 can occur and has become more common.

When someone catches Covid their immune system will generate a response that helps them to fight off the virus if they are exposed to it again.

However, it’s not clear how long this immune response lasts and is likely to vary between people.

The Omicron variant was previously found to be much more likely to cause reinfection compared to Delta.

Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggested that reinfections were ten times higher in the period when Omicron was most common - 20 December 2021 to 20 March 2022 - compared to when the Delta variant was dominant - 17 May to 19 December 2021.

Those who were unvaccinated were also found to be more than twice as likely to catch Covid a second time, compared to people who were fully vaccinated 14 to 89 days ago, according to data from the ONS.

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What should I do if I have Covid again?

The NHS said you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you get symptoms of Covid again and you either:

  • have a high temperature
  • do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities

The NHS website said: “Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people even if you’ve had a positive test result for Covid-19 before.

“You probably have some immunity to the virus but it’s not clear how long it lasts.

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“Take extra care to avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19.”

The NHS then said you can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.