Surviving Covid provides as good immunity as vaccine, new report finds

Modesto Morganelli
Gennaio 14, 2021

A new study found that three out of every four coronavirus patients treated at a Chinese hospital still experienced COVID-19 symptoms six months later, suggesting "long haulers" might be more prevalent than previously thought. Public Health England, which analyzed the results of coronavirus and antibody tests taken by almost 21,000 healthcare workers from June to November, found past infection resulted in a 83% lower risk of contracting COVID-19 compared with those who had no coronavirus antibodies, suggesting they were never infected.

They also warned that people with so-called natural immunity - acquired through having had the infection - may still be able carry the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nose and throat and could unwittingly pass it on.

Patients, who had an average age of 57, were visited between June and September and answered questions on their symptoms and health-related quality of life.

One U.S. expert said post-COVID-19 "recovery" remains an ongoing, unfolding story.

"It is what you expect because that is what you'd expect for many other viral infections for which we have vaccinations", Dr Hilary said.

"But we still see people who could transmit and so we want to strike a note of caution", Prof Hopkins said.

The SIREN study involves tens of thousands of healthcare workers in Britain who have been tested regularly since June for new COVID-19 infections as well as for the presence of antibodies.

But of those who had been infected, 44 developed possible new infections - representing an 83% level of protection against reinfection.

Independent experts welcomed the paper from the SIREN study, which has recruited nearly 20,800 healthcare workers - including frontline clinical staff - to undergo regular testing to see if they have the virus or antibodies to show a past infection.

But he added it could be "disappointing to put hard numbers to the idea that immunity to this virus is seemingly so variable and feeble that there is a greater than one in 10 chance of suffering reinfection even at five months, let alone now, when many United Kingdom healthcare workers are more than nine months out from infections in the first wave".

The team has not yet investigated immune responses from the COVID-19 vaccines, which Britain began rolling out in November.

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". The UK has recorded more than 3.2 million cases of infection.

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