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New data suggests low risk of COVID-19 reinfection in population: Public Health England

ANI | Updated: Jun 20, 2021 17:32 IST

London [UK], June 20 (ANI): Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday published population surveillance data on possible coronavirus (COVID-19) reinfections and said that the new data suggests a low risk of virus in the population.
The data was published to help monitor and understand the risk of people contracting COVID-19 again. The data will be published regularly as part of the PHE Weekly Surveillance Report, according to a release.
The current data shows that there is a low risk of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2. There were 15,893 possible reinfections with SARS-CoV-2 identified up to May 30, 2021 in England throughout the pandemic, out of nearly four million people with confirmed infections. This is equivalent to around 0.4 per cent cases becoming reinfected.
"People are understandably concerned about whether you can catch COVID-19 more than once. While we know that people can catch viruses more than once, this data currently suggests that the rate of COVID-19 reinfection is low. However, it is important that we do not become complacent about this - it is vital to have both doses of the vaccine and to follow the guidance at all times to reduce your chance of any infection," said Dr Susan Hopkins, Strategic Director for COVID-19 at PHE.
"This data shows reinfections from June 2020 up until the end of May 2021 and PHE will continue to look at the impact of vaccines and severity of illness in reinfections. Current evidence suggests that most reinfections will not cause symptoms. Work is ongoing to better understand the factors that make someone more likely to catch COVID-19 again and also the impact of vaccine status," added Hopkins on the impact of vaccines and severity of illness in reinfections.
"There is currently no evidence that the Delta variant, or any other Variants of Concern, are more likely to cause reinfection than others, but we will closely monitor this," said Hopkins.
Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 is expected and has been previously reported, however, this data highlights that the overall risk, as detected through national surveillance, remains low. PHE is calling on everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to take up the offer of two doses as this will minimise the risk of re-infection, read the release.
The population surveillance suggests that there were: 15,893 possible reinfections. A possible reinfection is identified where consecutive positive test results in the same person are at least 90 days apart.
These are reinfections which have not been sequenced and so we cannot be completely certain they are not the same original infection, said PHE.
A probable reinfection is identified when sequencing of the second test sample identifies a variant known to be circulating now and/or that was not circulating at the time of the first test. As per the data 478 probable reinfections were recorded.
Meanwhile, a confirmed reinfection is where sequences are available from each episode and the sequences are genetically distinct. 53 confirmed reinfections were recorded in the data by PHE.
Also, Dr Sanjay Rai, Professor of Community Medicine Department, AIIMS said that vaccinating those who have recovered from COVID-19 is a wasteful expenditure.
"Global evidences have suggested that natural infection provide better and longer duration of protection. There is no additional benefit of vaccination after natural infection. Vaccinating those who have recovered from COVID-19 is a wasteful expenditure," said Dr Rai.
The House of Commons of the UK Parliament had earlier approved on Wednesday the government's proposal to postpone the deadline for lifting quarantine restrictions in England until July 19 due to the surge of COVID-19.
The number of new cases continues to grow in the UK, exceeding 9,000 daily infections on Wednesday.
The move was proposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 14 over concerns about the third wave of the pandemic and the spread of the Delta strain of COVID-19. The authorities planned to completely lift restrictions in England on June 21. (ANI)