Scientific studies show that if you have had COVID-19, it is very likely that you will not get it again soon. The question arises: should we save vaccines by vaccinating those without antibodies first?
The second reason why we should be grateful to the care staff
During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare personnel around the world showed a willingness to put their own lives on the line for their patients. Unfortunately, many also contracted SARS-CoV-2 themselves, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, while caring for patients. In the fight against COVID-19, they are once again heroes on the front lines, and it has been investigated whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 can be reinfected by the virus.
English research into recontamination at COVID-19
New findings from a survey of thousands of health care workers in England show that those who received COVID-19 and produced antibodies against the virus were highly unlikely to become re-infected, at least during the several months the survey was conducted. In the rare cases where someone with immunity to SARS-CoV-2 subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus again within a six-month period, that person showed no signs of illness.
Some previous studies have shown that people who experience COVID-19 infection produce protective antibodies against key parts of the virus for several months. But how long those antibodies are present and whether they are sufficient to protect against reinfection is still a mystery.
In search of answers, researchers led by David Eyre, University of Oxford, England, looked at more than 12,000 health care workers at Oxford University Hospital from April to November 2020. At the start of the study, 11,052 of them tested negative for antibodies to SARS -CoV-2, suggesting they had not had COVID-19. But the other 1,246 tested positive for antibodies, evidence that they had already been infected.
After this initial testing, all participants received antibody tests once every two months and diagnostic tests for active COVID-19 infection at least every other week. What the researchers discovered was quite interesting: 89 of the 11,052 health care workers who initially tested negative later developed COVID-19 infection with associated symptoms of illness. Another 76 individuals who originally tested negative for antibodies tested positive for COVID-19, despite having no symptoms.
The good news!
Here's the good news: only three of these more than 1,400 individuals with antibodies, subsequently tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, none of them had symptoms of COVID-19.
The findings suggest that acquired immunity from initial COVID-19 infection for six months or perhaps longer protects against COVID-19 reinfection. The question remains whether the acquired immunity is the result of only the antibodies detected or their interaction with other immune cells. It will be important to continue monitoring the healthcare personnel for even longer to find out how long their immunity may last.
Keep doing everything you can to protect yourself and our loved ones.
While the new findings on reinfection are certainly good news, it is important to remember that the vast majority are still susceptible to the coronavirus and all its consequences. While we eagerly await any insights that science explores, we must all continue to do all we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community from COVID-19.
Do you have antibodies to corona?
Would you like to measure your possible accumulated antibodies against COVID-19? You can do so at Bloedwaardentest (at your own expense) by means of an approved blood test. Some travel organisations will also accept the results of this test (official lab report) as proof of travel, but there are still many developments in this area and it is best to check beforehand.
To test after 30 days whether your vaccination has produced enough antibodies, you can do this test.
- Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are associated with protection against reinfection. Lumley, S.F. et al. MedRxiv. November 19, 2020.