If someone in your home catches COVID-19, there’s basically no escaping it, right?
Actually, that turns out not to be the case, even with the more easily transmissible omicron coronavirus variant sweeping the United States, experts say.
“Some people manage to escape even though they’re in close quarters with others,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, told SFGate.
And that’s not unique to COVID-19 — the same thing commonly happens with the flu or other ailments.
Here are some possible reasons why someone might seem to avoid catching COVID-19 even when others in their household fall ill.
You might have caught COVID-19 from your housemates after all, but without realizing it. Cases of people with mild or no symptoms are common, Vox reported.
Absent a COVID-19 test, which aren’t advised for people with no symptoms, there’s no way to tell if you have an asymptomatic case.
“Asymptomatic means you feel in your best shape ever,” Jorge Salinas, an assistant professor of medicine and hospital epidemiologist at Stanford University, told Vox. “You are doing great. You feel amazing, nothing bothers you.”
You’re vaccinated or already had COVID-19
If you’re fully vaccinated — and boosted — you have some protection against COVID-19, although it’s not foolproof.
But you also might have antibodies from a previous infection, even if you never knew you had it.
When you are vaccinated or fall ill, the body ramps up production of antibodies to fight the virus. It takes awhile for the body to stop churning out new antibodies, protecting you against future infections.
You got lucky
A University of Utah study published in 2020, which had not yet been peer reviewed, found people had only a 12% chance of catching COVID-19 from others in their household.
“You might think, ‘Wow if I’m in a household with an infected person, I’m a goner,’” said Dr. Matthew Samore, an epidemiologist at the university. “But that’s just not true.”
The study suggests that some infected people become “super-spreaders” responsible for spreading the infection to many others.
If you don’t have a super-spreader in your home, your chances of catching COVID-19 might be reduced, experts said.
Another study suggests that some people may be genetically resistant to COVID-19, Deseret News reported.
We may not know why
Even after two years of dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
“There’s so much we don’t know about transmission of disease,” Schaffner told SFGate.