Protection of at least five months seen in caregivers who have already contracted the disease

Hospital staff caring for Covid-19 patients. – L.Venance / AFP

This is a study that could give valuable insight into the immunity of people who have contracted Covid-19. Researchers from Public Health England
revealed this Thursday that caregivers who have already had the disease are overwhelmingly protected against re-infection for at least five months.

The results unveiled by scientists from the British public health agency have not yet been reviewed by their peers but are already welcomed by independent experts. In total, the
researchers recruited nearly 20,800 caregivers to carry out their observations.

83% protected

Volunteer health workers were tested regularly between June and November. Some were even part of the frontline staff to care for patients with the coronavirus in hospitals.

Of the 6,614 caregivers who tested positive for the coronavirus, only 44 were said to have been reinfected with the virus when they already had antibodies during a period of five months. Compared to those who had not yet been exposed to Sars-CoV-2, this represents 83% protection.

Transmission always possible

The antibodies would therefore mostly prevent caregivers from being re-infected. “This protection is not total and we do not yet know how long it lasts”, nuance the main author of the study. According to preliminary data collected by the researchers, protected persons could still transmit the virus.

The researchers’ conclusions are nevertheless encouraging. They suggest that the rates of protection conferred by natural infection “are comparable to those of vaccines against Covid-19 ”, decrypts Julian Tang, honorary professor of virology at the University of Leicester.

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