Health

Prior coronavirus infection reduces new risk for up to 10 months, study finds


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he risk of being infected with coronavirus is substantially reduced for up to 10 months after a first infection, a study has found.

Researchers found that care home residents with a previous infection were 85 per cent less likely to be infected between October last year and February this year than residents who had never been infected.

Staff with past infection were 60 per cent less likely than staff who had not had the infection before, the study suggested.

The researchers cautioned that the two percentages may not be directly comparable, as staff may have accessed testing outside the care home, leading to positive tests not being included in the study.

Additionally, residents who tested positive for antibodies were likely to represent a particularly robust group, having survived the first wave of the pandemic.

Lead author Dr Maria Krutikov, of UCL Institute of Health Informatics, said: “It’s really good news that natural infection protects against reinfection in this time period.

“The risk of being infected twice appears to be very low.

“The fact that prior Covid-19 infection gives a high level of protection to care home residents is also reassuring, given past concerns that these individuals might have less robust immune responses associated with increasing age.

“These findings are particularly important as this vulnerable group has not been the focus of much research.”

Researchers looked at rates of coronavirus infections between October and February among more than 2,000 care home residents and staff.

They compared those who had evidence of a previous infection up to 10 months earlier, as determined by antibody testing, with those who had not been previously infected.

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