Why Do Some People Get COVID But Others In The House Don't?_freckle removal treatment

Catherine Pearson·5 min read
(Photo: Dalibor Despotovic via Getty Images)
(Photo: Dalibor Despotovic via Getty Images)

When I caught COVID right before Christmas — a breakthrough infection I got despite being vaccinated, boosted and wearing a medical-grade mask just about everywhere I went — I resigned myself to the fact that my kids would get it, too. We live in a tiny New York City apartment, after all. And my younger child is too young to be vaccinated.

But we tested them frequently throughout my quarantine, and after 10 days I hadn’t spread it to either of my kids or my husband. This has caused some people in my life to question whether I really had COVID-19 after all. (I’m going to believe the, like, seven at-home rapid tests that told me I did.)

But it’s also made me wonder a lot about the mysteries of COVID spread within households and how that has changed because of omicron. Many people fighting infections are also dealing with the same phenomenon.

Video: WHO says global COVID-19 case counts down 17%

Here’s what experts have to say about household COVID spread right now:

Omicron is more likely to spread within households than previous variants

Estimates suggest the initial omicron variant is up to four times more transmissible than previous COVID variants — and the newest omicron subvariant (BA.2) may be even more contagious than that. That seems to track within households as well. In early December, British health officials estimated that the risk of spreading omicron within a household was three times higher than with the delta variant.

With all of the variants, households pose a big risk just because of how much time you’re spending around those people.

“There are a lot of high-touch surfaces that might not get cleaned frequently. You might interact directly with saliva more frequently, especially if you have little kids. You’re probably not masking at home, so sitting next to each other on the couch you could easily get a spray of the bigger droplets in your face,” explained Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist with the University of Denver.


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