Senior UK government scientific advisers have warned that re-infections with Covid-19 are “expected” as the new coronavirus spreads and that the timeframe between each infection may be relatively short.
According to a document from the Covid-19 Genomics UK Consortium, released on Friday with a series of documents by the governments of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), it remains unclear at what point recovered people become vulnerable to re-infection, exists based on human reaction to other types of coronaviruses, such as those behind the common flu and cold.
Therefore, he seriously questions the concept of any long-term immunity from Covid-19 without a stable vaccine.
Based on the knowledge of other coronaviruses, re-infection should be expected, although it is not currently known at what point an individual is likely to be susceptible to re-infection, the paper notes.
In cases that have begun to be reported, the time to re-infect an individual has been relatively short. Where appropriate, genomics is required to demonstrate that the virus from both infections is not the same, providing evidence to rule out recurrence, it said.
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The document reports a significant case of re-infection from another variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), 20 weeks after an initial confirmed infection in a 33-year-old male resident in Hong Kong.
He may have gotten his second infection when he crossed into the UK in August when he was returning home from Spain. Although the species that caused the second infection was circulating mainly in the UK at the time, it may have been exported to Spain at an early date, geneticists believe.
If, as in the case of an individual in Hong Kong, re-infected individuals are asymptomatic, then it is imperative that work be included including a genomics component to identify whether these asymptomatic individuals are likely to be infectious. Clearly, if re-infections are asymptomatic and infectious, this may pose a challenge to any symptom-based measures (eg seeking evidence, self-isolation) used to test and limit / control the pandemic, notes the newspaper.
The paper is part of a series of documents and minutes of SAGE meetings released as part of governments’ efforts to reflect transparency in its decision-making process on the Covid-19 pandemic blockade. The UK is currently below various levels of high or very high alarm limits as the number of infections continues an upward trend.
Another 16,171 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the country this weekend, with another 150 people dead. This brings the total number of coronavirus cases in the UK to 705,428 and the number of deaths to 43,579.
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