According to a UK study of health care workers at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, people who have had COVID-19 are very unlikely to get it again for at least six months after their first infection.
The results should provide some reassurance to the more than 51 million people worldwide infected with the pandemic, Oxford University researchers said.
“This is really good news because we can be sure that most people who get COVID-19 won’t get it again, at least in the short term,” said David Eyre, professor at Oxford Nuffield Department of Population Health. who led the study.
Individual 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 recovered patients could quickly get sick again.
However, the results of this study, conducted in a cohort of UK healthcare workers who are among the most at risk for COVID-19, suggest that cases of reinfection are likely to remain extremely rare.
“Infection with COVID-19 will protect most people from re-infection for at least six months,” Eyre said. “We did not find any new symptomatic infections in any of the participants who tested positive for antibodies.”
The study, which is part of a large personal testing program, spanned a period of 30 weeks between April and November 2020. The results were not peer-reviewed by other scientists, but published on the MedRxiv website prior to review.
During the study, 89 out of 11,052 employees without antibodies developed a new infection with symptoms, while none of the 1,246 employees with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection.
Workers with antibodies also tested less positive for COVID-19 with no symptoms, the researchers said, with 76 testing positive without antibodies compared to just three with antibodies. These three were all healthy and did not develop COVID-19 symptoms, they added.
“We will continue to carefully monitor this cohort of staff to determine how long protection lasts and whether previous infection affects the severity of infection if people become re-infected,” Eyre said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)