Already had COVID-19? Your antibodies won’t protect you from getting the delta variant, SA doctor says

Dr. Jason Bowling, of University Health, says vaccines are the best way to protect yourself against the COVID-19 delta variant

HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 13: Laboratory Technician Julio Vasquez isolates COVID-19 samples at the Genview Diagnosis lab on August 13, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) (BRANDON BELL, 2021 Getty Images)

With another COVID-19 wave tearing through San Antonio, some people who were infected with the virus previously may be under the impression that their antibodies will protect them against the delta strain.

However, one area health professional said that’s not the case at all.

According to University Health’s Director of Hospital Epidemiology, Dr. Jason Bowling, antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection will not protect you against the delta variant.

“What we’ve learned over the last few months is that people that have had prior infection with COVID-19 and then developed natural immunity--antibodies from natural infection--unfortunately are not protected against this new delta variant, which is causing the number of cases we’re seeing now,” Bowling said in a video interview released Friday. “Prior infection, unfortunately, does not confer good protection against this delta variant.”

In Bexar County, the delta variant accounts for the majority of COVID-19 cases, as the county’s positivity rate skyrocketed to 21.4% this week. That’s up from the start of July, when the rate resided at 5.8%.

The other main cause of concern is the significant rise in hospitalizations from delta COVID-19 infections, with roughly 90% of those hospitalized being unvaccinated. On Thursday, city leaders also reported San Antonio was without EMS transports for 26 minutes amid a surge of 911 calls for COVID-19 and other emergencies.

So, what’s the best way to protect yourself against this delta strain? The COVID-19 vaccines, according to health officials. Natural immunity from previous COVID-19 antibodies won’t be effective alone against delta.

“The prior strain was different than this current strain, which is more virulent, transmits more readily, and so you will not be protected with natural infection alone,” Bowling said.

Vaccinations are increasing in Bexar County for the second consecutive week in a row. For the week of Aug. 12, health officials said there were more than 28,000 new vaccinations reported.

All people above the age of 12 are currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For more information on where you can get yours in San Antonio, click here.

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