COVID-19 reinfection unlikely for at least 6 months, study finds

COVID-19 reinfection unlikely for at least 6 months, study finds
Laboratory assistant holds a tube with Russia's "Sputnik-V" vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the National Institute of Pharmacy and Nutrition in Budapest. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 November 2020

COVID-19 reinfection unlikely for at least 6 months, study finds

COVID-19 reinfection unlikely for at least 6 months, study finds
  • None of the more than 1,000 people tested developed symptoms of the virus a second time
  • The findings will allay fears that people could quickly fall ill again after recovering from the virus

LONDON: People who’ve had COVID-19 are highly unlikely to contract it again for at least six months after their first infection, according to a British study of health care workers on the frontline of fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The findings should offer some reassurance for the more than 51 million people worldwide who have been infected with the pandemic disease, researchers at the University of Oxford said.
“This is really good news, because we can be confident that, at least in the short term, most people who get COVID-19 won’t get it again,” said David Eyre, a professor at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, who co-led the study.
Isolated cases of re-infection with COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, had raised concerns that immunity might be short-lived and that recovered patients may swiftly fall sick again.
But the results of this study, carried out in a cohort of UK health care workers — who are among those at highest risk of contracting COVID-19 — suggest cases of reinfection are likely to remain extremely rare.
“Being infected with COVID-19 does offer protection against re-infection for most people for at least six months,” Eyre said. “We found no new symptomatic infections in any of the participants who had tested positive for antibodies.”
The study, part of a major staff testing program, covered a 30-week period between April and November 2020. Its results have not peer-reviewed by other scientists but were published before review on the MedRxiv website.
During the study, 89 of 11,052 staff without antibodies developed a new infection with symptoms, while none of the 1,246 staff with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection.
Staff with antibodies were also less likely to test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms, the researchers said, with 76 without antibodies testing positive, compared to only three with antibodies. Those three were all well and did not develop COVID-19 symptoms, they added.
“We will continue to follow this cohort of staff carefully to see how long protection lasts and whether previous infection affects the severity of infection if people do get infected again,” Eyre said.


150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave
Updated 54 min 16 sec ago

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave

150 migrants storm border with Spain’s Melilla enclave
  • 90 migrants managing to cross from Morocco into Melilla at a point where the border fence crosses the Nano river
  • Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa

MADRID: Around 150 migrants stormed the border fence separating the Spanish enclave Melilla from Morocco early on Tuesday with nearly 90 managing to cross, officials said.
The incident took place just before dawn where the fence crosses the Nano river, a spokesman for the Spanish government’s local delegation said, indicating “87 of them” got across despite efforts to stop them by the Moroccan and Spanish security forces.
It was the biggest mass attempt to cross the border fence since August 20 when some 300 people stormed the fence, although only around 30 managed to get across and one died during the attempt.
During Tuesday’s incident, nine migrants were hurt while trying to get into the tiny Spanish territory, while the rest were being registered at the migrant reception center, he said.
Interior ministry figures show that in the first two weeks of the year, 60 migrants managed to illegally cross the fence into Melilla while another 70 managed to cross into Ceuta, Spain’s other North African enclave.
Melilla and Ceuta, another Spanish territory in North Africa, have the European Union’s only land borders with Africa.
They are favored entry points for African migrants seeking a better life in Europe, who get there by either climbing over the border fence or by swimming along the coast.
The border crossings between Morocco and both enclaves have been closed since the start of the pandemic last March.