COVID-19 Infection Provides Immunity for a minimum of 5 months: UK research
Preliminary results from public health scientists in England (PHE) showed reinfections in individuals with COVID-19 antibodies from a previous infection are rare.
London: People with COVID-19 have a high chance of being immune for at least five months, although there are indications that antibody patients can still bear and spread the virus, a UK healthcare staff study found.
Early results of Public Health England (PHE) scientists have shown that reinfections are rare in people with prior infections with COVID-19 antibodies — with only 44 cases among 6614 people previously infected in the sample.
Experts, however, warned that the results now indicate people who contracted the disease in the early wave of the pandemic in 2020 could be vulnerable to its recovery.
It also cautioned that people with so-called “natural immunity” – who have been infected – could still bear the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in the nose and throat and pass it unwittingly on.
“We now know that most of those who have had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we do not yet know how long protection lasts,” said Susan Hopkins, PHE senior health advisor and the lead co-director of the research, whose results were published on Thursday.
“It is true that even if you assume you already have the disease and are safe, you should rest assured that it is extremely unlikely that you will develop serious infections.
A study statement said that its results did not discuss antibodies or other immune responses to COVID 19 vaccines and the effectiveness of vaccines. Responses to vaccines will be considered later this year, it added.
The SIREN research covers tens of thousands of healthcare staff in the UK who have been routinely screened since June for new COVID-19 infections and antibody diseases.
Between 18 June and 24 November scientists reported 44 potential reinfections – two “probable” and 42 “possible” – of 6,614 antibody-positive research participants. This is an 83 percent reinfection safety figure, they said.
Researchers intend to monitor the participants and test them in order to see if this natural immunity will last for more than five months. They cautioned however that early results from the next stage of the study indicate that some people with immunity still can have elevated virus levels and can pass it on to others.
“It is, therefore, crucial that everyone continues to follow the rules and stays at home, even if they have previously had COVID-19,” they said in their statement about their findings.