As Australia grapples with another wave of infections, an increasing number of people are contracting COVID-19 for the second time, but a dearth of official statistics makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly who is getting it twice.
COVID-19 was initially detected by Raelene Roede, a 50-year-old kindergarten teacher from Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, following New Year’s Eve in January.
Ms Roede made a full recovery and returned to her normal workout regimen after an extended period of seclusion – made longer due to January’s infamous testing delays – and a week spent feeling fairly sick.
“With natural immunity and being boosted, I thought I was safe,” she said.
Ms Roede returned a positive fast antigen test in mid-March, little over two months after recovering from her initial illness, after a trip to a nearby nightclub and her daughter testing positive.
“I was not expecting the second time,” she said.
She isn’t on her own.
Nusrat Homaira, a senior lecturer at UNSW and a respiratory epidemiologist, said statistics showed that reinfections were becoming more likely with the Omicron type.
“With Omicron, we see that people are 10 times more likely to get reinfected compared to the Alpha, Beta or Delta variant,” Dr Homaira said.
While getting sick and needing to isolate again will put a strain on the community and the economy, the good news is that early evidence indicates that reinfections will be milder.