Published: Thu, January 14, 2021
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Previous COVID-19 infection gives some immunity- England Healthy Agency

Previous COVID-19 infection gives some immunity- England Healthy Agency

An official United Kingdom study released on Thursday concludes that a past COVID-19 infection provides some immunity for at least five months, but people may still carry and transmit coronavirus.

"Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving the hospital, and highlights a need for post-discharge care, particularly for those who experience severe infections", Cao said in a journal news release.

China has been accused of initially covering up the outbreak that first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, which critics say delayed China's initial response and allowed COVID-19 to spread globally.

Julian Tang, honorary associate professor/clinical virologist at the University of Leicester, said the study suggests natural infection protection rates "are comparable to the current COVID-19 vaccines" adding that immunisation would likely boost natural immunity.

According to the findings, prior COVID-19 infection can provide 83% protection against reinfection, compared to people who have not had the disease before, which appears to last for around at least five months from first becoming sick. They spotted 44 potential reinfections, including 13 symptomatic, among the 6,614 believed to have had Covid before, and 318 cases among the 14,173 who had no evidence of past infection.

Work is ongoing to find out how long immunity lasts, whether vaccines work in people previously infected, and if people with immunity can pass on the virus.

"This study has given us the clearest picture to date of the nature of antibody protection against COVID-19 but it is critical people do not misunderstand these early findings", said Professor Susan Hopkins, Senior Medical Advisor at Public Health England who led PHE's SIREN study.

Tang said that the results were not surprising, because we already knew that other coronaviruses produce long-lasting antibodies. This study was done in healthcare workers, and there are published surveys in the United Kingdom that have shown healthcare workers have higher levels of antibodies than the general public. But they said early evidence from the next stage of the study suggested some people with immunity could still carry high levels of virus.

The study found that 76% of COVID-19 patients had at least one symptom six months after the initial onset of the illness.

"Immunity gives you a similar effect to the Pfizer vaccine, and much better effect than the AstraZeneca, so that is reassuring for people".

"I am strongly encouraged that people have immunity that is lasting much more than the few months that was speculated before the summer", Prof Hopkins said.

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