COVID-19 infection likely to provide immunity for at least 5 months, but people can still transmit the virus, study finds

People who have had COVID-19 are likely to be protected from re-infection for at least five months, a preliminary study of healthcare workers in the UK found. But experts cautioned that those with immunity can still carry the virus in their nose and throat and risk passing it on to others. The SIREN study from the government agency Public Health England, released Thursday, has yet to be peer-reviewed.

PHE recruited 20,787 health workers from the National Health Service and divided them into two groups: those who had previously been infected with coronavirus and those who had not. Between June and November 2020, scientists detected 44 potential reinfections, two “ probable ” and 42 “ possible ” reinfections, out of 6,614 participants who tested positive for antibodies. This represents an 83% protection rate against reinfection, similar to the level of protection afforded by the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being implemented. The researchers found that antibody protection after infection lasts at least five months, on average. “This means that many people who contracted the disease in the first wave may now be vulnerable to contracting it again,” the government said in a statement announcing the results of the interim study. Read: Why do I need to wear a mask if I have had COVID-19? Who does it protect? Can I really get infected again? Responding to the study, Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist and professor of molecular oncology at Warwick School of Medicine, said the study showed that the primary infection offered “similar levels of protection” against symptomatic infection to that offered by some of the vaccinations Dr. Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor and Clinical Virologist at the University of Leicester, echoed their comments, saying that the reported ‘protective efficacy’ results for natural SARS-CoV-2 infection are comparable to those current COVID-19 vaccines. “Receiving the vaccine after recovering from COVID-19 is not a problem or a contraindication, and it will likely boost natural immunity. We also see this with the seasonal flu vaccine, ”he added. Read: Pfizer and BioNTech say that the COVID-19 vaccine neutralizes the mutation found in new variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa The vaccine developed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer PFE, -0.86% and its German partner BioNTech BNTX, -2.69 % and the injection developed by biotech Moderna mRNA, -0.39% give 95% and 94% protection respectively. The vaccine developed by the Swedish-British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca AZN, + 1.17%, produced with the University of Oxford, reached an average efficacy of 70% in late-stage clinical trials. “Now we know that the majority of those who have had the virus and developed antibodies are protected from reinfection, but this is not complete and we still do not know how long the protection lasts. “Fundamentally, we believe that people can still transmit the virus,” said Professor Susan Hopkins, PHE senior medical advisor and leader of the SIREN study. “This means that even if you think you already had the disease and are protected, you can be sure that it is highly unlikely that you will develop serious infections, but there is still a risk of getting an infection and passing it on to other people,” Hopkins added. highlighting the importance of staying home to protect the health service and save lives. Read: Getting COVID-19 can protect you against future infections, two new studies indicate that she noted that preliminary findings did not provide evidence on antibodies or other immune responses from COVID-19 vaccines, nor should any conclusions be drawn about their effectiveness. The study will consider the vaccine’s response in its next phase later this year. The research took place before the recent discovery of a new variant of the virus, which is behind the rapid increase in cases in the U.K. The country will remain under a third lockdown until mid-February, when the government plans to review restrictions as it try to combat the increase of winter in new cases. On Wednesday, 1,564 more people died in the UK within 28 days of a positive COVID test, marking the highest number reported in a single day since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Earlier this year week, the government outlined plans to inoculate tens of millions of people in the spring at more than 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK, as part of its efforts to rapidly scale up the country’s mass immunization program. The expansion of the government program will mean that all adults will receive a vaccine by the fall. Read: The third vaccine could be licensed for the UK in a few weeks, fueling the mass immunization campaign, says a senior scientist. More than 2 million people in the country have been vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford injections, the government said. In an effort to protect as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization and four UK medical directors have agreed to delay the gap between the first and second doses of vaccines.