Repeat infections with COVID-19 are rare within six months but more common for those above age 65, a new study released Wednesday in leading medical publication The Lancet found.
“People over the age of 65 are at greater risk of catching COVID-19 again, with only 47% protection against repeat infection compared with 80% for younger people,” the authors said.
Only 0.65% of patients tested positive twice, compared with 3.27% of who tested positive after initially being negative.
“Protection against reinfection remained stable for more than six months,” the study added.
The survey is the first large-scale assessment of coronavirus reinfection.
It was conducted in Denmark during the first and second waves in 2020, based on national PCR test data (including 4 million people and 10.6 million tests).
Due to the timing of the study, the focus was on the original virus strain and variants could not be included.
“Further studies are needed to assess how protection against repeat infection might vary with different COVID-19 strains,” The Lancet said.
“Our findings make clear how important it is to implement policies to protect the elderly during the pandemic,” said Dr Steen Ethelberg, from the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark.
The study also suggests that people who have had the virus, especially among the elderly, should still get vaccinated.
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