I recovered from omicron. How long will my immunity last?

(NEXSTAR) – Omicron cases are finally dwindling after the highly infectious variant swept across the United States, leaving millions of people with antibodies to the coronavirus.

Some people who have recovered from omicron, especially those who have been previously vaccinated and boosted, may feel invincible when it comes to reinfection.

A recent study by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) suggests that a combination of a breakthrough infection and a vaccine can lead to hybrid ‘super immunity’, which the infection occurs before or after vaccination.

So how long can an otherwise healthy person with a new set of COVID-19 antibodies expect their immune system boost to last?

“About three to six months,” said Dr. Peter Chin Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. “That’s sort of the time when some people’s antibodies will start to drop, where they’re potentially at risk of re-infection.”

However, when antibodies start to wane, it doesn’t mean the immune system has forgotten how to fight the virus.

“Antibodies are important to prevent this first onslaught, but the internal immune system, T cells and B cells, remain active for a long time,” Dr Chin Hong said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical adviser, said this week that we are coming out of the “full-fledged pandemic phase of COVID-19” and we can probably expect local governments – and even individuals – begin to make more of the virus management decisions themselves in the future.

In fact, we might even see “a good three to six months of COVID holidays if no other variant comes along,” Dr Chin Hong said.

As omicron antibodies begin to wane in the fall or winter, he added, people who have been vaccinated, boosted and have natural immunity will do best.

“If people rely solely on natural exposure to infection and they got the original variant two years ago, they could get sick, because those T-cells – it’s like getting a single dose of vaccine can to be,” Chin Hong said. “But when you get the combined vaccine and the natural infection, that’s the Holy Grail. It’s hybrid immunity. It’s better than anything.


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