COVID-19 reinfection unlikely for at least six months, study finds

Pablo Tucker
November 22, 2020

This study mirrors the recent results of research from Iceland.

The scientists said that understanding immune memory to SARS-CoV-2 is critical for improving diagnostics and vaccines, and for assessing the likely future course of the pandemic. "The spike IgG titers were durable, with modest declines in titers at six to eight months".

"Several studies have found that individuals with asymptomatic infection may clear the virus faster, suggesting that those without symptoms may be as infectious as those with symptoms at the beginning of infection, but may be infectious for a shorter period". The researchers said that there was about a 200-fold range in the level of antibody responses among the adults.

Researchers at the University of Oxford say the findings should give some confidence to the more than 51 million people worldwide who have been infected with the epidemic. "B cell memory to some other infections has been observed to be long-lived, including 60+ years after smallpox vaccination, or 90+ years after infection with influenza", the authors said.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, took into consideration various immune facets, including B cells, antibodies and T cells.

Isolated 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 may swiftly fall sick again.

Other studies show that some people may be more infectious and deemed a superspreader because they have weak immune systems that allow viruses to replicate more quickly, thus leading to frequent symptoms like coughing and sneezing, McClatchy News reported in June. Most infections do lead to mild disease, especially in middle-aged and younger people. "This means that the population level of immunity may be rising which will eventually lead to reduced transmission", Evan said adding that this, coupled with immunity being conferred by vaccination, offers prospects of transmission of the virus being markedly reduced over the next year or so.

"We have solved a major piece of the cytokine storm mystery by characterizing critical factors responsible for initiating this process, and thereby identifying a unique combination therapy using existing drugs that can be applied in the clinic to save lives", Kanneganti said in the news release.

But the results of this study, carried out in a cohort of United Kingdom healthcare workers - who are among those at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 - suggest cases of reinfection are likely to remain extremely rare.

However, newer studies indicate immunity could last longer.

A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust found that people who contract COVID-19 are "highly unlikely" to get reinfected for at least six months.

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