LONDON (Reuters) – People who have had COVID-19 are more likely to have immunity for at least five months, but there is evidence that people with antibodies are still able to spread and spread the virus. May be, a UK study of health workers has found.
Preliminary findings from scientists at Public Health England (PHE) showed that infection is rare among people who have COVID-19 antibodies from previous infections – the study found only 44 cases out of the 6,614 people previously infected. went.
But experts cautioned that the findings meant that people who contracted the disease in the first wave of the epidemic in the early months of 2020 may now catch it again.
He also warned that people with so-called “natural immunity” were acquired through infection – may still be able to carry SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in their nostrils and throat, and inadvertently pass it on. Can.
PHE senior medical adviser Susan Hopkins said, “We now know that most of the people who had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from re-infection, but it’s not total and we don’t know yet Is how long security lasts. ” The study’s co-leaders, whose findings were published on Thursday.
“This means that even if you believe you already had the disease and are safe, you can be assured that it is not very likely that you will develop a serious infection. But there is still a risk that You can get an infection and broadcast (it) to others. “
A statement on the study said its findings did not address antibodies or other immune responses against COVID-19, or how effective vaccines would be. Vaccine reactions will be considered later this year.
The research, called the SIREN study, involves thousands of healthcare workers in the UK who have been tested regularly since June for new COVID-19 infections as well as the presence of antibodies.
Between June 18 and November 24, 24 scientists detected 44 possible infections out of 6,614 participants – two “probable” and 42 “possible” – who tested positive for antibodies. He said that this represents an 83% rate of protection from reinfection.
Researchers plan to continue watching the participants and evaluate whether this natural immunity can last longer than five months in some. But he cautioned that early evidence for the next phase of the study already suggests that some people with immunity may still carry high levels of the virus and pass it on to others.
“It is important that everyone continues to follow the rules and stay at home, even if they have COVID-19 before,” he said in a statement about his results.
Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Mark Heinrich