Why Do Some People Get COVID But Others In The House Don’t?


When caught COVID Immediately before Christmas — a breakthrough infection I received despite vaccinations, boosters, and wearing medical-grade masks wherever I went — I said kids would get it too I resigned myself to the facts. After all, we live in a small New York City apartment. And my younger child is too young to be vaccinated.

But we tested them frequently during the quarantine, and after 10 days I didn’t spread it to my kids or husband. This made some people in my life wonder if I really had COVID-19 after all. (I’m going to believe something like a quick test at home, which I told me I did.)

But it also wondered a lot about the mystery of COVID in the home and how it was changed by Omicron. Many people fighting infectious diseases are working on the same phenomenon.

Here’s what experts have to say about the current prevalence of household COVID:

Omicrons are more likely to spread in the home than previous variants

Estimates are that the first Omicron variant is Up to 4 times more contagious More than the previous COVID variant — and the latest Omicron subvariant (BA.2) More contagious than that.. It also seems to be tracked within the household. In early December, UK health officials said the risk of spreading Omicron in the home 3 times higher Than the delta variant.

In all variations, households pose a great risk just because of how much time you spend around those people.

“There are a lot of high-five surfaces that may not be cleaned often. Especially if you have small children, you may have more frequent direct interactions with saliva. You probably aren’t masking at home, so Sitting side by side on the sofa can easily spray large drops of water on the face, “explains Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist at the University of Denver.

“But most importantly, exposure to the inhaled virus is likely to be much higher at home,” Huffman said. Many are related to ventilation.

“Many apartments and homes have fairly low air exchange rates, so the air is not refreshed often and the air exhaled by the infected person can be quite high in concentration,” he said.

However, the expansion of household finances no Unavoidable

One of the many reasons health professionals really hate the idea of ​​”overcoming Omicron” is “Mild” COVID can be really sick And long-distance symptoms are a real risk. It is inevitable that someone in the family or home will be infected just because they are ill.

“It is very difficult to compare one study to the next. In general, in the early days of COVID, it was roughly known that 10-20% of home exposures were infected with COVID. It was before vaccination, “said Dr. Richard Martinero, an associate professor of infectious diseases and pediatrics. Yale School of Medicine. In other studies, the secondary incidence (that is, the spread of the disease at home or in the home) is slightly higher. twenty five% also 30%..

With Omicron, these rates are probably higher. But again, it’s not inevitable.Martinero Recent studies from Denmark — Not yet subject to peer review — This suggests that over 40% of household contacts have infected themselves with BA.2. In BA.1 (early Omicron strain), it was about 30%.

Basic prevention makes a big difference

There are many factors that determine the potential for household expansion. This is one problem that makes accurate estimation of that type of transmission very difficult.

For one thing, some people shed more viruses than others. For example, people with weakened immunity are more likely to have more serious and long-term infections. This means that they are more likely to shed the virus for a longer period of time. Then there are other factors, such as whether everyone in your home is vaccinated. The fact that unvaccinated preschoolers were not infected with COVID when I received it wonders if they had an asymptomatic infection at some point we didn’t know about. .. also, Antibody tests may be unreliable..

Regardless of the specific circumstances of your family or home, prevention can make a big difference in stopping the epidemic at home. Whenever possible, you should still be isolated in your own home. (Because it was Christmas, and also because there are so many places in an 800-square-foot house where you can hide from an avid 3-year-old kid, I completely gave up on this quest when I got sick. I admit it.)

“If you can’t completely isolate a sick person, it’s a good idea to keep them as far away as possible. Wear a high-quality, snug-fitting mask (that is, N95). Open windows when possible. Add some portable air filters (commercially available HEPA filters, DIY, etc.) Cordy Rosenthal Box); We will limit the amount of time we spend together in a common area, “says Huffman.

And be strategic about the time you spend together, he added.

“If possible, try to eat and drink in separate locations where you can ventilate or filter the air faster,” he said. This is because the risk is highest whenever the mask comes off.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this article is known or available at the time of publication, but guidance may change as scientists discover more about the virus.please Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention About the latest recommendations.

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