Covid-19 Reinfection Rare, But More Common In 65+: Lancet St
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Most people who have had Covid-19 are protected from catching it again for at least six months, but elderly patients are more prone to reinfection, according to research. The degree to which infection with SARS-CoV-2 confers protection towards subsequent reinfection is not well described.

In 2020, as part of Denmark’s extensive, free-of-charge PCR-testing strategy, approximately 4 million individuals underwent tests. Using these national PCR-test data from 2020, researchers estimated protection towards repeat infection with SARS-CoV-2. Large-scale assessment of reinfection rates in Denmark in 2020 confirms that only a small proportion of people (0.65%) returned a positive PCR test twice.

However, while prior infection gave those under the age of 65 years around 80 percent protection against reinfection, for people aged 65 and older, it gave only 47 per cent protection, indicating that they are more likely to catch Covid-19 again. The authors of the first large-scale study of its kind detected no evidence that protection against reinfection declined within a six-month follow-up period.

Their findings highlight the importance of measures to protect elderly people during the pandemic, such as enhanced social distancing and prioritisation for vaccines, even for those who have recovered from Covid-19. The analysis also suggests that people who have had the virus should still be vaccinated, as natural protection – particularly among the elderly – cannot be relied upon.

Older people are more likely to experience severe disease symptoms and sadly die. The findings make clear how important it is to implement policies to protect the elderly during the pandemic. The insights could also inform policies focused on wider vaccination strategies and the easing of lockdown restrictions.

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