The Directorate of Health reports COVID-19 re-infections are rising even though many people have been vaccinated.
There have been 200,397 infections diagnosed in Iceland since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 5,116 have been diagnosed twice, and 19 three times. Re-infections therefore represent a total of 2.6% of all infections. Officials caution that the true number is likely higher because many people are using at-home tests that are not represented in the official statistics. Re-infection is internationally defined as a new infection that is diagnosed 60 days or later after a previous infection.
A closer look at the re-infections reveals that of the 30,487 cases diagnosed in 2020 and 2021, there were 4,026 people re-infected in 2022 after the Omicron variant started to spread, or 13.2%. Of the 169,069 people who became infected for the first time in 2022, 841 have been re-infected, which is 0.5%.
Re-infections have increased significantly in the last two months, and in recent weeks they have represented about 20% of the daily number of infections. The increase is related to the BA.5 variant of SARS-CoV-2, which now causes about 80% of all infections in Iceland. International studies have also shown that the BA.5 variant escapes immunity from previous infections more than other variants.
The European Union Agency for Disease Control states that the third vaccine dose significantly prevents the transmission of COVID-19 and serious illness. However, the protection decreases during the three months after vaccination and protection varies according to the variants; the protection against the omicron variant is less robust than for other variants. The fourth vaccine dose, however, greatly improves protection, but there is not enough research to say how long it lasts.
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