Testing positive for COVID and unsure if this is a new or persistent infection? Here’s What Chicago’s Top Doctor Says – NBC Chicago

Amid a surge in new COVID cases thanks to a more contagious omicron variant, many patients want to know if their positive tests are from the same infection or a new one, something Chicago’s top doctor recently addressed.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said concerns about ‘rebound’ cases of COVID should be taken seriously, but the frequency of getting COVID twice in a row is relatively low. .

“Most people are no longer reinfected. Most people who are re-infected were months away (from their previous case) in most cases,” she said.

Arwady warned that patients who test positive via a PCR test could simply show that they have recently been infected with the virus, but home testing could be a better indicator of a “rebound” case of the virus.

Either way, officials recommend that patients observe the same CDC quarantine guidelines, even in the event of a “COVID rebound.”

Concerns have recently grown over the possibility of contracting COVID twice in a row, especially after news that President Joe Biden had tested positive for the virus again late last week after several days of testing. negatives.

The president, who was prescribed the Pfizer antiviral drug Paxlovid, said he no longer had symptoms following the new positive test, but would resume isolation as a precaution.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s White House physician, said there have been limited reports of cases of rebound in patients who took the drug, which showed a success rate of nearly 90% to help at-risk patients avoid hospitalizations. because of their illness.

Amid these concerns, Arwady says it’s still rare to see a patient being infected back-to-back with different variants at this time, but the reinfection rate of the original omicron strains, which circulated over the winter , and the new strains is significantly higher.

After self-isolating for five days with mild symptoms of COVID-19, President Joe Biden said he “felt great” and credited vaccines, boosters and therapeutic treatments like Paxlovid for his quick recovery.

“Yes, especially with BA.4 and BA.5, we see more examples of another infection, even people who had an original version of omicron,” she said.

Arwady says patients, including those who took Paxlovid, who test positive for COVID again shortly after going through their quarantine period should again return to quarantine for five days and should monitor their symptoms.

She also says the likelihood of serious illness with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants remains low, especially if the patient is up to date on vaccinations.

“You’re very unlikely to be severely infected if you’ve had an infection recently, assuming you’re up to date with all your vaccines,” she said.

(With home testing) You would be unlikely to always be positive to the point of being contagious.

Yes, especially with BA.4 and BA.5, we see more examples of another infection, even people who had an original version of omicron.

She says it’s rare to see someone being infected back-to-back with different variants right now, but the rate of re-infection of original omicron strains and new strains is significantly higher.

“What we’ve seen with omicron is that it’s the most contagious release to date.

You’re very unlikely to get serious if you’ve had an infection recently, assuming you’re up to date with all your vaccines, so what I can say is if it’s a test PCR, disregard it. If this is an at-home test, be careful.

NBC Chicago

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