Natural immunity isn't what it used to be, so it's more important than ever to stay current on vaccinations and to take Paxlovid within five days of a positive COVID test, Dr. Ashish Jha told Newsmax.
"What we know is that if you're vaccinated and boosted, you're much more likely to have very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all," Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Tuesday on "The Record With Greta Van Susteren."
The omicron and omicron BA.2 variants are much more highly contagious than previous variants, he noted, making natural immunity far less effective than it previously had been.
"Infection-induced immunity, what people call natural immunity, clearly generates immunity," he said. "It lasts for a while. In the old days, I mean, by 'the old days' a year ago, we used to think that infection-induced immunity would give you three, six months of protection before you started having breakthroughs again."
But with the new variants, he said, some people are getting infected a month or two after initial infections.
"I mean, you can keep getting reinfected over and over again," he said, "or obviously, a much better approach is to stay up to date on your vaccines ... and get boosted. It is a much better way to make sure that you don't end up getting reinfected."
Paxlovid is being taken by first lady Jill Biden after it was announced on Tuesday morning she had tested positive for COVID.
"If you start it in the first five days after symptoms begin or you test positive, that's where the benefit is, because that's the period of time where the virus is replicating. And Paxlovid is a great antiviral, just shuts down viral replication," Jha said. "So if you start in that first five days makes all the difference in the world. That's what the president got. He got [Paxlovid] on his first day, the first lady got [it] on her first day."
Jha said he encourages everyone to get Paxlovid as soon as possible after a positive test.
Like with the flu and other viruses, some people end up with mild or no symptoms, while others have more severe ones, he noted, and that's why it's important to take all precautions.
"I mean, when people get the flu, some people get horribly sick and die. Other people end up having mild flu," he said. "But on average, what we know is if you're vaccinated [and] boosted, you're much, much more likely to have relatively mild symptoms."
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