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World

Covid reinfection rare, more common over 65: study

  • The rate of infection was five times higher for people who tested negative during the Spring surge of the virus and then positive during the second wave.
Updated 18 Mar 2021

PARIS: Surviving Covid-19 protects most people against reinfection for at least six months, but elderly patients are more likely to be laid low by the virus a second time, researchers reported Thursday.

An assessment of reinfection rates in Denmark last year showed that just over half a percent of people who tested positive for Covid during the first wave from March to May did so again during the second wave, from September to December.

Among these, the researchers found that initial infection with Covid-19 was likely to bestow 80 percent protection from reinfection among under-65s, but that dropped to just 47 percent in older people.

"We did not identify anything to indicate that protection against reinfection declines within six months of having Covid-19," said Daniela Michlmayr, a researcher at the Staten Serum Institute in Denmark and co-author of a study in The Lancet.

Free PCR testing available to anyone in Denmark regardless of symptoms has been a central pillar of the national strategy for controling Covid-19.

More than two-thirds of the population -- some four million people -- were tested in 2020.

Ratios of positive and negative test results -- taking account of differences in age, sex, and time since infection -- were used to produce estimates of protection against reinfection.

The rate of infection was five times higher for people who tested negative during the Spring surge of the virus and then positive during the second wave.

Of the over 9,000 people aged under 65 who tested positive in the first wave, just 55 -- or 0.6 percent -- tested positive again during the second wave.

This compared to 3.6 percent of individuals in this age group who tested positive during the second wave but not in the first.

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