Studies find having COVID-19 may protect against reinfection

Health

Studies find having COVID-19 may protect against reinfection

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!


TWO new studies give encouraging evidence that having COVID-19 may offer some protection against future infections.

Researchers found that people who made antibodies to the novel coronavirus were much less likely to test positive again for up to six months and maybe longer.

The results bode well for vaccines, which provoke the immune system to make antibodies — substances that attach to a virus and help it be eliminated.

Researchers found that people with antibodies from natural infections were “at much lower risk...on the order of the same kind of protection you'd get from an effective vaccine”, of getting the virus again, said Dr Ned Sharpless, director of the US National Cancer Institute.

“It's very, very rare” to get reinfected, he said.

The institute's study had nothing to do with cancer — many federal researchers have shifted to coronavirus work because of the pandemic.

Both studies used two types of tests. One is a blood test for antibodies, which can linger for many months after infection. The other type of test uses nasal or other samples to detect the virus itself or bits of it, suggesting current or recent infection.

One study, published last Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, involved more than 12,500 health workers at Oxford University Hospitals in the United Kingdom. Among the 1,265 who had coronavirus antibodies at the outset, only two had positive results on tests to detect active infection in the following six months and neither developed symptoms.

That contrasts with the 11,364 workers who initially did not have antibodies; 223 of them tested positive for infection in the roughly six months that followed.

The National Cancer Institute study involved more than three million people who had antibody tests from two private labs in the United States. Only 0.3 per cent of those who initially had antibodies later tested positive for the coronavirus, compared with three per cent of those who lacked such antibodies.

“It's very gratifying” to see that the Oxford researchers saw the same risk reduction — 10 times less likely to have a second infection if antibodies were present, Sharpless said.

His institute's report was posted on a website scientists use to share research and is under review at a major medical journal.

The findings are “not a surprise ... but it's really reassuring because it tells people that immunity to the virus is common,” said Joshua Wolf, an infectious disease specialist at St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis who had no role in either study.

Antibodies themselves may not be giving the protection, they might just be a sign that other parts of the immune system, such as T cells, are able to fight off any new exposures to the virus, he said.

“We don't know how long-lasting this immunity is,” Wolf added. Cases of people getting COVID-19 more than once have been confirmed, so “people still need to protect themselves and others by preventing reinfection”.

— The Associated Press


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaper-login


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT