Previous Coronavirus Infection May Confer Immunity for at Least 5 Months

COVID-19 immunity

The spokesperson said: "As with all new viruses, we don't yet know the degree or length of immunity those who have recovered from coronavirus have".

With these findings, researchers concluded that people who acquired natural immunity from SARS-CoV-2 virus from past infections has 83% protection against reinfection, compared to people without any history of catching the infection.

The study regularly tested almost 21,000 health workers for COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies in the United Kingdom National Health Service between June and November of 2020. Crucially, we believe people may still be able to pass the virus on. Leaders of the study are clear it provides no evidence towards the antibody or other immune responses from COVID-19 vaccines and will consider vaccine responses later this year.

Lawrence Young, Virologist and Professor of Molecular Oncology, Warwick Medical School added that because the results cover the months before the new variant took hold, "it will be important to determine whether previous infection with the old virus variant is able to offer protection from re-infection with the new virus variant".

"Doctors need better tools to evaluate the status of COVID-19 patients as early as possible because numerous treatments - such as monoclonal antibodies - are in short supply, and we know that some patients will get better without intensive treatments", said co-senior author Andrew E. Gelman, PhD, the Jacqueline G. and William E. Maritz Endowed Chair in Immunology and Oncology in the Department of Surgery.

"If you believe you already had the disease and are protected, you can be reassured it is highly unlikely you will develop severe infection but there is still a risk that you could acquire an infection and transmit to others", she said.


In a sample of more than 6,600 healthcare staff who tested positive for an infection, just 44 people were reinfected within five months, and only two of those cases were deemed "probable", with the rest being classed as only "possible".

Cambridge scientists have developed a simple DNA test that can quickly identify secondary infections in COVID-19 patients, who have double the risk of developing pneumonia while on ventilation.

Preliminary findings by scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that reinfections in people who have COVID-19 antibodies from a past infection are rare - with only 44 cases found among 6,614 previously infected people in the study. According to their data, this appears to last at least five months from first signs of illness.

The effectiveness of vaccines was not investigated in the study as they were not approved soon enough to meet the cut-off point of the study.

"Doctors need better tools to evaluate the status of COVID-19 patients as early as possible because numerous treatments are in short supply, and we know that some patients will get better without intensive treatments", said study co-author Andrew E. Gelman.

"Overall I think this is good news, it allows people to feel that their prior infection will protect them from future infections, but at the same time, it is not complete protection, and therefore they still need to be careful when they're out and about".

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