COVID-19 is a common pandemic disease. In fact, it is likely that you know several people who had it or you had it yourself. After you get better from this infection, your body’s immune system knows how to protect you from COVID-19 for quite some time. But how long does that immunity last?
Team of scientists led by UCL found that prior Covid-19 infection reduces the risk of disease only for a very limited amount of time.
Scientists analysed COVID-19 data of more than 2,000 care home residents and staff. They were interested to see rates of Covid-19 infections and to see how long the immunity lasts after the infection. They found that those participants who previously had COVID-19 were 85% less likely to be infected during the four month period. Except the staff of those care homes – their risk of infection was just 60 % lower. This is still quite a strong protection, but it is evident that it goes down in time. While the number of staff and residents who were reinfected between October and February was very small, scientists saw that protection from COVID-19 generally lasts for up to 10 months.
This news is still rather good. It means that these extremely vulnerable groups do gain protection from this viral disease following a strong infection. Age is one of the strongest risk factors for COVID-19, which is why it is very important to research how the older population can get out of this pandemic.
While the protection scientists saw among care home residents is impressive and reassuring, it does not tell the full story. These people survived the viral disease. They had this condition and got better from it. It means that these results are actually from a particularly robust population of the elderly. Scientists will not begin to see how immunity after a natural infection compares to the one after vaccination. It is important to know how long the immunity lasts.
Dr Maria Krutikov, lead author of the study, said: “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.” This research will continue, because results of it will be relevant not only for COVID-19, but for future pandemics as well.
COVID-19 pandemic will end eventually. We have vaccines and treatments now that were not available at the beginning of this global health crisis. However, after it there will be new pandemic and new local outbreaks. We need to understand how they spread and how all kind of humans develop immunity for them.