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People who recover from covid have a level of protection against future infections similar to those who receive the covid vaccine, at least for the first five months. To suggest it is a study of Public Health England, conducted on over 20,000 healthcare workers, which revealed that contracting covid provided 83% protection against reinfection for at least 20 weeks. This should not be considered a valid reason for lowering attention. The results show that, although the odds are low, it is still possible to contract the virus again and infect other people.
Researchers from Public Health England’s SIREN study found 44 potential reinfections out of 6,614 participants, who had already tested positive for antibodies over a five-month period between June and November 2020. In their first published report – which has not yet been subjected to peer review – the authors stated that this represents an 83% protection rate from reinfection. But they cautioned that although the antibodies may confer some protection from becoming sick with Covid-19, early evidence from the next phase of the study suggests that some of these individuals carry high levels of the virus and may continue to pass it on to others.
“This study has given us the clearest picture to date of the nature of antibody protection against Covid-19, but it is imperative that people do not misunderstand these early results,” said lead author Susan Hopkins, senior medical advisor at Public Health England and SIREN in charge of the study.
“We now know that most of those who have had the virus and developed antibodies are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we still don’t know how long the protection lasts. Basically, we believe that people may still be able to transmit the virus. “
Independent experts welcomed the study which recruited nearly 20,800 healthcare workers – including frontline clinical staff – to undergo regular tests to see if they have the virus or antibodies to show a past infection. Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London and a spokesman for the British Society for Immunology, said Siren has collected a “really important” dataset of healthcare professionals. Julian Tang, honorary associate professor / clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, said the study suggests that natural infection protection rates “are comparable to current Covid-19 vaccines,” adding that immunization would likely increase the natural immunity.
In December, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly all health care workers studied at Oxford who tested positive for antibodies were protected for at least six months. Tang said that it is hoped that these studies “will reduce the anxiety of many colleagues of health care workers who have concerns about getting Covid-19 twice.”
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