Juan Negroni (opinion): I thought I had seasonal allergies. It turned out to be COVID

Vaccine illustration

Vaccine illustration

Donna Grethen

It isn’t that I thought of myself as the “Man of Steel.” That the fastest of speeding bullets would ricochet off my chest. Or that my body would intuitively repel the deadliest of the yet-to-come COVID variants.

But lodged deep in my consciousness was an ever-present aura of safety spinning around me. In my mind it was as if social distancing, wearing a mask and those wondrous two vaccine shots had melded into layers of invisible armor to shield me.

I felt secured and protected. There was no way infectious particles could get into me ... though I knew that those of us already vaccinated could still get COVID. I also had read that the impact of the delta variant on my group would be less severe.

On a Tuesday, when the sneezing and coughing started at the beginning of a seven-day business trip to California, I felt far from perfect. Yet I took it to be a recurrence of past postnasal drips from seasonal allergies. So sure was I of being “virus proof ” that I boasted, “I’ve been vaccinated. It’s not COVID. It’s allergies from a postnasal drip.”

Adding to my assurance was the absence of fever chills or any of the symptoms associated with COVID. Still, I continued wearing a mask while keeping a safe distance from others.

By Friday the worst was over. I was beginning to feel a touch of normalcy. On Saturday morning, on a telehealth conference with my doctor from her Connecticut office, she thought what I had experienced suggested an ailment other than COVID. Serious seasonal allergies perhaps.

On Sunday I flew home to Connecticut. It was the next to last of my five weeks of back-and-forth travels. I felt a bit tired but otherwise fine. Later I learned that my 12-year-old vaccinated granddaughter had tested positive earlier that day. I had been with her the previous weekend. We were fairly certain she did not pass it on to me.

My family’s rush to be tested had begun before I got home. They were all negative. Late that afternoon I got tested and was stunned to learn from the Urgent Care Center that I was indeed positive.

I phoned my doctor. She said that because of my comorbidities, age, and the window of time from the onset of COVID, I was eligible for monoclonal antibody therapy, a special immunotherapy treatment to stimulate the body’s immune system.

But the treatment had to be done almost immediately. Off to our local hospital my wife and I went. I was home that night by 10 p.m., totally infused. The procedure took only 20 minutes.

After the therapy, in the first few days of my subsequent quarantine I slept for up to 10 hours. It’s usually no more than seven hours. Was it the COVID, the therapy or my just being generally tired that led to such unusually prolonged sleep? Or was it a combination of the latter three factors. I don’t know.

Following my quarantine, a colleague asked if I had been retested to be sure I could no longer spread the virus. What he didn’t know is that people who have tested positive for COVID-19 are very likely to continue to test positive after 10 days. But they are not contagious. I was no longer contagious and went back again on the travel trail.

Since this surprise bout with COVID, my focus has been on better understanding why my symptoms were limited to coughing, sneezing, a running nose and an upset stomach with no chills or fever. And why had I recovered so quickly?

It never occurred to me that anything other than good fortune had interceded on my behalf. Perhaps there was something to that “aura of safety spinning around me,” as I had imagined.

Then I came across an article (https://n.pr/3o044mB) about some individuals having “superhuman immunity” to COVID-19. This piece appeared to be credible with persuasive references to completed studies.

What caught my interest was a section that referred to a recent series of investigations that suggested some individuals develop powerful immune responses against COVID-19. And to variants that may emerge later.

So, what happened to me? Have others had similar experiences? Is there such a thing as super immunity?

Unlike the Man of Steel, I am not about to try leaping tall buildings in one bound. And even with my two vaccinations, having had COVID, my monoclonal antibody infusion, plus a soon-to-come booster, I will remain vigilant and follow the science.

Juan Negroni, a Weston resident, is a consultant, bilingual speaker and writer. He is the Immediate Past Chair/CEO, Institute of Management Consultants. Email him at juannegroni12@gmail.com.