It seems like almost everyone in Minnesota is suffering from COVID-19. This is because the latest subvariant of the highly-infectious, immune-evasive BA.5 micron virus has taken root in the state.
Even in people with mild cases and similar vaccination records, COVID-19 can be a different thing. For some, COVID-19 may mean a day on the couch. Others might spend three days in bed. Some people have more severe symptoms than others. Some cases go away quickly, while others can linger.
It is difficult to understand why you may be sicker than your brother or friend, or your partner. Experts agree that your genes and your health are important factors, but you can control how sick you get by limiting your exposure to the virus and getting vaccinations.
When COVID-19 was still relatively new in the U.S. in early 2020, the baseline level for immunity against the virus in the US was low.
This is not the case today. According to the most recent data, 71% of Minnesotans have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination. This vaccine is highly effective in preventing severe illness or death. 31% are current on all their shots and any boosters. Untold numbers of people have been infected by COVID-19 at minimum once.
People have different histories of vaccines, boosters, and previous infections, and possibly even antibodies from prior coronavirus infection, according to Ajay Sethi (Professor of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine School of Public Health).
Because of how their immune systems react to infection and vaccination, even people with similar vaccinations or combinations of them can have different levels of immunity. Additionally, people have different time periods since they had an immune response to an infection. This affects their ability to react to the virus.
Sethi stated that there is a lot of variability in vaccine uptake, previous infection and quality of immune response.
Genes and their role in underlying conditions
Your genes play an important role in the way your body will handle COVID-19.
Marc Jenkins, Director of the Center for Immunology of the University of Minnesota Medical school, stated that there are literally hundreds of genes that influence the quality and quantity of an individual’s immune response. “People have different sets of genes. This means that people’s immune reactions function span>
We know that genes play an important role in the immune response. But, we still don’t know how it works.
Sethi stated that genetics will also play a part, but it’s still relatively understudied. He added that many researches into genetics and COVID-19 compare the genes of those who died to the ones who survived.
He said that although it’s relatively simple to determine the difference between infection and infection, genetics will be a factor in infection variability because they can affect your susceptibility to contracting viral infections.
There are also underlying medical conditions. We know of several factors that could make someone more vulnerable to COVID-19. These include age and immunocompromised.
People with chronic conditions such as diabetes can increase the immune system’s response to the virus. This can lead to more severe illnesses, Sethi stated. People who are immunosuppressed may experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms, as they don’t have a strong immune response to stop the virus from replicating.
These conditions can cause more severe COVID-19 consequences, but there are likely many undiagnosed conditions that also affect how people experience infections, Sethi stated.
Sethi stated that a 75-year-old might end up in the hospital while a 75-year old doesn’t.
Exposure levels matter
The amount of virus that you are exposed to, along with your immunity, genetics, and underlying health conditions, has an impact on the severity of the illness you might get from COVID-19 making the COVID-19 experience variable.
Jenkins stated that a person with low antibodies will get sicker if they are exposed to high levels of virus.
Jenkins stated that if you have more antibodies than viruses, you will have symptoms. Jenkins stated that if you inhale large amounts of virus and you have more antibodies than virus, the virus will win and you’ll get some symptoms span>.
Jenkins states that viruses can be killed if they outnumber their antibodies.
Jenkins stated that virus-killing cells in your lungs can cause inflammation and fluid buildup and make your lungs less efficient. Jenkins said, “The final extension of this is to the point that you can’t breath and you die. But short of that, your body will try to expel dead cells and the consequences.
Good news is that most people are able to reduce the effects of the virus by having some antibodies. It may not be completely eliminated in all cases. This is why some people experience symptoms. However, the immune system can help stop viral replication and aid the body fight the virus.
Another good thing is that you can take control of these matters by opting to be vaccinated or trying to reduce your exposure to the virus.
Although the number of COVID-19-related cases is lower than two years ago and one year ago, it still can make people very sick and cause long-lasting effects.
A different variant of the same virus could cause a different type of illness in the same person today, next week, or a month later, Sethi stated.
span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” I can’t stress enough how uncertain it is to know where you’re going,” he stated.