I finally caught COVID-19

After dodging the virus for over 2 years, I finally caught it on my 30th birthday. Here’s my experience and what I think will happen next.

Call it fate, or call you what you want, but last week I uttered a phrase that I’ve said several times before:

“I’m one of the few people who haven’t had COVID, so far.”

Me, speaking way too soon

One week to the later, and I’m currently isolating in my spare bedroom 6 days after testing positive for COVID-19 on a lateral flow test.

Now, I never believed that I was part of the rare group of people who have a natural, genetic immunity to the virus, but I did consider myself lucky. I’d been pinged by test and trace several times (3 times in one week) but had always seemed to dodge the inevitable thanks to sheer dumb luck and recent vaccinations.

How did I catch COVID-19?

Washing hands in a blue basin – Pandora's Health blog

The short answer is simple: I don’t know. I was in Norwich, my home city, for a long 30th birthday weekend and I’d been out and about at various social gatherings.

Maybe it was stopping in a busy McDonald’s for 5 minutes on the road? Maybe it was being in various shops and restaurants? I can’t pinpoint the exact time and place, but I do know this. The pandemic is far from over.

And yet, this is living with COVID. We’re in yet another wave that is currently waining, and now I’m yet another infection statistic.

What were my symptoms?

A box of tissues – Pandora's Health blog

The classic COVID-19 symptoms like fever, a dry cough and a tight chest seem to have evolved into more of your typical cold/flu symptoms thanks to the emergence of the Omicron variant. Personally, my symptoms aligned with this trends, as seen by the ZOE Health Study team.

I had a sore throat that gave me a raspy voice, which I first chalked up to socialising and talking to a lot of people. Then I woke up with a splitting headache. This was what prompted me to take a lateral flow test, and I saw two solid lines appear in about 2 minutes. The headache only lasted for a day, but then I started sneezing a lot, had a stuffy nose and developed a phlegmy cough.

I was also exhausted for days. My eyes felt permanently heavy, and I needed to take frequent, hours long naps.

But, as the weekend draws to an end, these symptoms have eased off and I’m feeling a lot better. I’m still not 100% thanks to a residual cough and the odd need to blow my nose, but I feel much better.

I’m still testing positive on lateral flows though.

What comes next?

A woman with brown wavy hair looking out of a window – Pandora's Health blog

First of all, I’m waiting a few more days before I start going anywhere. The odds are that I’m not very infectious at this point, but I’d rather be safe than sorry. I’m hoping that I stop testing positive soon.

I’m also due to fly abroad soon, and you can be sure that I’ll be packing a mask.

In terms of the wider population? I’m not sure. It’s so hard to predict what will happen next with this virus. We’ve seen variant after variant emerge and while Omicron seems milder, thanks to the classic virological trade off of higher transmissibility at the cost of mortality, we can’t guarantee that things will stay this way.

Boosters for the over 50s are due to start in the autumn and I’ll be making sure that I stay up to date with things like flu vaccines. Eventually, I think they’ll offer boosters to everyone under 50, probably in the winter or new year.

Thanks for reading. Sign up to Pandora’s Health to for even more advice, tips and tricks about the latest trends.

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