Published:October 10, 2021
For 20 months we’ve cowered behind masks, scrubbed ourselves with hand sanitiser and socially distanced to avoid Covid — now most people are vaccinated, experts are telling us we need to prepare to catch the virus.
It sounds counterintuitive but the argument is if you are vaccinated and catch Covid, you are unlikely to get seriously ill or go to hospital and getting the virus will further boost your immunity.
The new message comes as infections in the US and worldwide appear to have peaked and some scientists are noticing the virus has a wave pattern — two months of high infections followed by a decline then two months of high infections.
With lockdowns in three states due to ease in coming weeks Australian National University’s infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon and University of Newcastle’s Professor Nathan Bartlett said fully vaccinated people needed to change their attitude to the virus.
Prepare yourself to be infected and don’t “freak out” if you do catch it when lockdowns end, they said.
“You might want to get it, you definitely want to get it. You definitely want to be vaccinated before you get it, because if you’re vaccinated your risk of death goes down,” said Prof. Collignon.
Prof. Bartlett said: “It’s immunity you want supported by the vaccine but then sort of topped up, by circulation and that’s really is what’s going to ultimately lead to make this turn this virus into basically an endemic, common cold causing virus, and that’s what you want it to be”.
The head of the Australian Society of Infectious diseases (ASID) Allen Cheng said he expected “everyone will probably be exposed, eventually.”
“We want to be vaccinated, so we have the best defences against it when it happens that we meet the virus,” he said.
A study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and another by one of Israel’s largest health providers found people who’d recovered from Covid and were later vaccinated had half the risk of reinfection compared with unvaccinated people who’d previously had Covid.
The Kaolinska Institute’s Charlotte Thalin told The Conversation combining natural infection with protection from a vaccine may work better because natural infection exposes our immune system to several viral proteins while vaccines introduce a single antigen: the spike protein.
But, like the other experts, she cautions you want to be vaccinated before getting infected because getting a natural infection first exposes you to the risks of death, blood clots and long Covid.