A GP has explained why some people seem to keep getting infected by Covid-19 while others never at all.
After Sir Keir Starmer tested positive for coronavirus for a second time earlier this week, some have been asking why certain people are getting infected with the virus again, while others seem to remain immune.
A doctor has explained why that seems to be the case.
Dr Alan Stout, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in Northern Ireland, said people “can absolutely get Covid twice” and it explains why case numbers here remain high.
He told Belfast Live : “The vast majority of people we’re seeing in the daily figures will have had some sort of previous infection.
“Keir Starmer is a good example as what he will have now is almost certainly the Omicron variant and previously, he may well have had the Delta or Alpha variant.
“One of the difficulties with the variants is that having one of the previous ones doesn’t necessarily protect you from the next. That has become quite clear as the previous Delta infection we know now gives you virtually no protection or natural immunity from Omicron.
“That’s the simplest reason why people are contracting Covid twice – it’s down to the different variants.”
As people up and down the country continue to get their vaccinations and boosters jabs, concern is growing over the question of immunity from the new variant.
Dr Stout said: “That’s why the booster has been so important for Omicron because we’ve known that the level of immunity given by the first two vaccine doses has started to wane.
“Hence the booster was giving that extra level of protection but it was actually giving protection above and beyond, which is then preventing people getting Omicron or certainly becoming seriously unwell with it.”
But Dr Stout said research around reinfections is still in its infancy.
He added: “That’s one of the things we’re learning as we go along and yet there is quite a lot of data and evidence around what protection people have, which then helps with the planning in terms of vaccination.
“One of the big things we don’t know is around any next variant. Equally while we know there will definitely be more variants, whether we get a more severe one or they become less and less severe with time and evolution is another significant possibility.”
In more positive news, a leading scientist has announced that Covid-19 case rates are ‘slowing down’ in London.
Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) confirmed the positive change but said scientists will need a fortnight to see if this continues.
He told told Times Radio on Saturday: “Most other parts of the country are about two to three weeks behind where London is in their epidemic profile.
“What we are seeing from hospital admissions is that stays in hospital do appear to be on average shorter, which is good news, symptoms appear to be a little bit milder, so this is what we are seeing consistently with the Omicron variant.
“We’re not quite there yet, but possibly Omicron is the first ray of light there that suggests that may happen in the longer term. It is, of course, much more transmissible than Delta was, which is concerning, but much less severe.”
He added: “Hopefully, as we move more towards the spring and we see the back of Omicron, we can get more inter-relationship of living with Covid as an endemic disease and protecting the vulnerable.”