July 19, 2022 14:32
COVID reinfections are likely to become part of a new normal as vaccines prove ineffective against infection and can only reduce the severity of the illness.
So far the number of reinfections is much smaller than that of new infections, and six out of 10 Koreans have not had COVID at all, but that could change as more virulent mutations take over.
As of Monday, the cumulative number of COVID patients in the country was around 18.78 million, accounting for 36 percent of the population. However, 430,000 more people were infected in July alone, and infections are likely to spread more rapidly in the coming days.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month, "I think, although I don't know for sure, [that] over the next cycle or so, we’ll be getting towards a once a year boost, like flu."
Some studies suggest that there is a higher risk of reinfections as vaccination and natural immunity gained from infections rarely work for new mutants like the BA.5 subvariant while the efficacy of vaccination and natural immunity against COVID-19 decreases over time.
Among the weekly confirmed cases, the proportion of reinfected patients quadrupled from 0.59 percent in the first week of May to 2.87 percent in the last week of June. But the severity of COVID usually decreases when patients are reinfected or infected after vaccination.
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