We know that the omicron variant is largely responsible for the record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases we've seen in recent days.
But, there's still a lot about the variant that we don't know.
Like, if you're one of the people currently sick with the virus, can you catch it again?
While doctors say it seems like people develop a level of immunity after coming down with the omicron COVID variant, the bottom line is: it's too soon to tell.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told our sister station KHOU 11 that "it's unclear, at this point, what level of immunity occurs after an omicron infection. I suspect over time, yes, you probably can get reinfected. But we don't have that data yet because omicron has only been around since October/November.”
As far as people who were previously infected with a different variant of COVID-19, data shows it's pretty clear they are still susceptible to testing positive for omicron.
"This variant can evade previous immunity in people – so it can still infect those who have had COVID-19 in the past, those who are unvaccinated, and those who were vaccinated many months ago. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 are 3 to 5 times more likely to be reinfected with Omicron compared to Delta," Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, wrote in a statement on Dec. 21.
Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, echoed this sentiment, adding "somebody who's previously been infected with COVID, their chance of getting reinfected with omicron is almost 5½-fold higher than reinfection with delta."
So, what can we do to protect ourselves?
We've heard it before — health experts say our best bet is to mask up, keep your distance, and get vaccinated and boosted.
"Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website reads. " The recent emergence of Omicron further emphasizes the importance of vaccination and boosters."