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Immunity attained through COVID infection long-lasting, reinfections rare: Pune study

Out of 1,081 persons tracked between September 2020 and June 2021, only 13 were found to be re-infected with COVID-19, the researchers claimed.

July 09, 2021 / 05:01 PM IST
Representative image: Reuters

Representative image: Reuters

A study conducted by researchers in Pune suggests that the immunity attained by a person through COVID-19 infection is long-lasting, and cases of reinfection through SARS-CoV-2 virus are rare.

The research was conducted on over 1,000 people in Pune Metropolitan Region (PMR) by epidemiologists and community medicine experts of DY Patil Medical College and Hospital. The study is still in pre-print stage, but lead researchers told the Times of India that the reinfection rate among the volunteers was only 1.2 percent.

The researchers were tracking a total of 1,081 persons who had tested seropositive by September last year. They were constantly inquired about their health condition till June this year. Among them, only 13 were found to be reinfected with coronavirus.

Even in the cases of reinfection, the symptoms were mild and the patients recovered completely within a short span.

Citing their findings, the study's lead investigator and clinical epidemiologist Amitav Banerjee said the government should concentrate on vaccinating those individuals first who have not been exposed to the virus so far.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Also Read | Antiviral drug Molnupirvir helps mild COVID-19 patients recover faster: Hetero

The serosurveys in most parts of the country, including Pune, suggest that 70-80 percent of the population has been exposed to the virus. Under such circumstances, the target should be to vaccinate the remaining 20-30 percent of the population at the earliest, Banerjee told the daily.

"The bottom line is, given the low rate of reinfection, people who have recovered from natural infection should be at the back of the queue in the vaccination programme," he was further quoted as saying.

Notably, the Union Health Ministry has asked vaccination centres across the country not to inoculate those individuals who have contracted coronavirus infection in the past six months.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jul 9, 2021 05:01 pm

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