Immunity Is Likely After COVID-but Not Guaranteed

Hospitalised Covid Patients Have At Least One Of These Symptoms After 6 Months

But they warned that although antibodies may confer some protection from becoming ill with COVID-19, early evidence from the next stage of the study suggests that some of these individuals carry high levels of virus and could continue to transmit it to others.

The new study included 1,733 Covid-19 patients discharged from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May previous year.

"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 do not yet know how long protection lasts", Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser at PHE and co-leader of the study, said according to Reuters.

"It is what you expect because that is what you'd expect for many other viral infections for which we have vaccinations", Dr Hilary said.

However, the researchers said that it was not possible to determine if symptoms reported during follow-up tests was continuing following the infection, aggravated after recovery, or occurred post recovery.

The SIREN research examined the impact of infection on more than 20,000 volunteer health workers from across the United Kingdom and a pre-print of the study found only 44 cases among 6,614 people. This represents an 83 per cent rate of protection from reinfection. "To many, it may be disappointing to put hard numbers to the idea that immunity to this virus is seemingly so variable and feeble that there is a greater than 1 in 10 chance of suffering reinfection, even at five months, let alone now, when many United Kingdom healthcare workers are more than nine months out from infections in the first wave".

The researchers will continue to study antibody responses to infection and the impact of Covid-19 vaccines.

Considering the nature of the virus, the infection strain can affect people differently.

Hopkins stressed that people who had previously caught Covid-19 still needed to obey social distancing rules to avoid transmitting the disease.

Simon Clarke, an associate professor in cellular microbiology at Reading University, said the study "has major implications for how we can get out of the current crisis".

"The concerning finding is that some people who have Covid antibodies appear to still be able to carry the coronavirus and could spread it to others".

England is now under a stringent national lockdown after cases surged over the holiday period.

Earlier, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had said that the nearly half a million residents of Wuhan, the original epicentre of the novel coronavirus, may have been infected with it almost 10 times its official number of confirmed cases.

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