People who’ve had Covid-19 are highly unlikely to contract it again for no less than six months after their first infection, according to a British study of healthcare workers on the frontline of fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The findings will have to offer some reassurance for the more than 51 million people worldwide who have been infected with the pandemic disease, researchers at the University of Oxford said.
“This is in reality good news, because we will be able to be self-assured that, no less than in the short term, the general public who get Covid-19 won’t get it again,” said David Eyre, a professor at Oxford’s Nuffield Branch of Population Health, who co-led the study.
Lonely cases of re-infection with Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, had raised concerns that immunity might be short-lived and that retrieved patients may hastily fall sick again.
But the result of this study, carried out in a cohort of UK healthcare workers – who are among those at highest risk of contracting Covid-19 – propose cases of reinfection are likely to remain extremely infrequent.
“Being infected with Covid-19 does offer protection against re-infection for the general public for no less than six months,” Eyre said. “We found no new symptomatic infections in any of the participants who had tested positive for antibodies.”
The study, a part of a major staff testing programme, covered a 30-week period between April and November 2020. Its results have not peer-reviewed by other scientists but were published before review on the MedRxiv website.
Right through the study, 89 of 11,052 staff without antibodies developed a new infection with symptoms, while not one of the 1,246 staff with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection.
Staff with antibodies were also less likely to test positive for Covid-19 without symptoms, the researchers said, with 76 without antibodies testing positive, in comparison to only three with antibodies. Those three were all mannered and did not develop Covid-19 symptoms, they added.
“We can continue to follow this cohort of staff carefully to see how long protection lasts and if preceding infection affects the severity of infection whether people do get infected again,” Eyre said.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter