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Health Matters: Reporting on Covid for Two Years, I Caught the Virus Twice

By: Himani Chandna

News18.com

Last Updated: January 10, 2022, 08:54 IST

While it seems mild, we must remember that an absolute risk from any variant of SARS-CoV2 depends on many factors, including vaccination status, age and underlying health condition.

While it seems mild, we must remember that an absolute risk from any variant of SARS-CoV2 depends on many factors, including vaccination status, age and underlying health condition.

On the first day of 2022, my throat felt scratchy. This wasn’t a regular sore throat. Indeed, I first experienced similar discomfort in May 2021 when I fell ill due to Covid-19 in the middle of the second wave.

It has been a tradition at my home to go out for dinner on New Year’s Eve. This year was an exception when we decided to stay at home and watch Netflix instead. The pictures of the new year celebration on WhatsApp groups reaffirmed that we have made a good choice by staying safe at home. But as we know, Covid-19 is unpredictable.

On the first day of 2022, my throat felt scratchy. This wasn’t a regular sore throat. Indeed, I first experienced similar discomfort in May 2021 when I fell ill due to Covid-19 in the middle of the second wave.

I argued with myself, “How can I get re-infected? It’s just eight months since the last Covid-19 infection.”

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As much as I tried to convince myself that it could be a bad flu, the itchiness in the throat became stronger - from just an uncomfortable feeling to a slightly painful condition.

By the night, my symptoms progressed, adding headache and acute body pain. Finally, by mid-morning, I started feeling the chills and the bodyaches worsened. My temperature was at around 101 degrees.

Home testing kits showed negative results. There were no slots available for RT-PCR at nearby laboratories. I managed to book the test from 1 MG Labs and on the third day of illness, and the result came “positive”.

This time, unlike May, the difference was I was fully vaccinated.

“Antibodies from natural infection (in May), followed by two shots of Covid-19 vaccines, yet the immunity was dodged. High chances, it’s Omicron,” a doctor, who is also working in Covid wards in a popular public hospital, told me on a call.

“Don’t worry. It’s going to be mild,” she told me when I asked her multiple times if there is any need for concern, especially for my seven-year-old daughter who is unvaccinated.

Despite reading and reporting hundreds of stories on Omicron and interviewing scientists who all call it a “mild” variant, I failed to believe the theory of mild coronavirus when it came for me and my family.

Reason: the symptoms of my illness were not as ruthless as the memories from the terrible second wave where we had lost a handful of relatives.

In May, when I first got infected with the Delta strain of the virus, my throat pain was unbearable. I dreaded (almost) every time I swallowed saliva or tried to speak. The temperature exceeded 103 degrees, pushing family members to break isolation rules and do cold water sponging on my forehead. Occasionally, SpO2 level dropped below 90, but doctors on call, breathing exercises and sleeping postures improved my condition.

Luckily, Covid caused temporary conditions. It took months to get back to required energy levels or taste and smell normally.

Back to the present.

I had my own arguments for not trusting Omicron. When this “heavily” mutated variant was detected, it alarmed scientists across the globe, I recalled.

In fact, it has taken longer to untangle the exact characteristics of omicron and its illness. Everyone is still figuring out.

However, my questioning mind was relieved by the data.

In India, the early data, so far, suggests that only 3.5% of total infected individuals require hospitalization, much lower than South Africa where the number stood at 12%. Chances of requiring oxygen is 1.3%. Deaths have remained low across the globe.

Other studies show that the risk of admission in hospital due to Omicron is less than half the risk from the Delta variant.

​Fortunately, the data was comforting and thankfully proved right. As we progressed day after day, the symptoms regressed.

It was mild, as they all told me.

ALSO READ: ‘OmiSure’: Tata’s ICMR-Approved Covid Kit Detects Omicron, Will be Available by Jan 12 for Rs 250

Fever, around 102 degrees, followed by a runny nose started on the third day. Almost like clockwork, a dry cough continued. It got worse at night along with a blocked nose. I sneezed a little too much.

But honestly, it actually felt like a bad flu. My SpO2 remained intact around 97 to 100.

The symptoms have gradually started disappearing and energy levels are recovering as I write this on the 10th day of symptoms.

While it seems mild, we must remember that an absolute risk from any variant of SARS-CoV2 depends on many factors, including vaccination status, age and underlying health condition.

For me, all’s well that ends well.

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first published:January 10, 2022, 08:27 IST
last updated:January 10, 2022, 08:54 IST