New Numbers Show More Californians are Getting Reinfected With COVID-19

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A growing number of Californians are getting COVID-19 a second time.

New state numbers show one out of every seven new cases in July was a reinfection and infectious disease specialists say the highly transmissible variant BA.5 is playing a big role in the increase in reinfections.

Among those reinfected was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who announced on Twitter he had COVID for the second time in two months.

According to the new state health department numbers last month, at least 50,000 people came down with COVID for a second time.  

“We have had an incredible number of infections in our clinics and throughout the city,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, UCSF infectious disease specialist. 

Dr. Gandhi said the highly transmissible BA.5 variant is behind many of those reinfections.

“I think it's just that BA.5 evades antibodies and that's what protects us from getting infections in our nose and mouth so we are seeing so many more infections with BA.5,” she said.

Dr. Gandhi said people are unlikely to get infected twice within a few months with the same variant and the second infection is usually less severe.

She also said President Joe Biden testing positive for COVID again on Saturday, is not considered a reinfection.

“That is called a paxlovid rebound. A virus test came out positive in his nose. After taking paxlovid. It doesn't mean he got a new infection,” she said.

The Biden administration is pre-purchasing tens of millions of newly formulated "BA.5 specific" boosters expected to be ready for approval in September.

Dr. Ghandi anticipates that this will help reduce the number of COVID reinfections in the future.

Doctors also said it's possible people who already had COVID let their guard down, and quit wearing masks as often, thinking their antibodies will protect them.

That also may have played a role in the number of reinfections.

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