When I tested positive for COVID-19 over the winter holidays, I spent a good bit of time puzzling over how and where I was exposed. I was infected just as omicron was ripping through New York City, so it wasn’t a surprise. But I am also a fairly COVID-cautious health reporter. I wore an N95 in public settings, I’d been working from home, and I was newly boosted. How did I end up with a breakthrough infection and not, say, my husband, who goes into work every day? Why was I the one exposed, and not my unvaccinated preschooler who spends his days in the company of germy 3-year-olds?
Of course, health experts have warned since omicron took over as the dominant strain that everyone is likely to get COVID-19 at some point. And a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey that used blood tests to check for coronavirus antibodies suggests that there have been many more cases than our official counts suggest. Yet all of the data we have at this point suggests there are still millions of Americans who haven’t been infected.
So what gives? How can it be that two years into a pandemic marked by increasingly contagious variants, so many people remain COVID-free? What separates those of us who have tested positive from those who haven’t?
Here are a few reasons why some people have never had COVID-19 at this point in the pandemic.