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new findings Over-65s more likely to catch Covid-19 a second time, study shows 

It found that people aged over 65 only have 47pc protection against reinfection compared with 80pc for younger people.

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Older people are substantially more likely to catch Covid-19 a second time, according to a major new study published today.

It found that people aged over 65 only have 47pc protection against reinfection compared with 80pc for younger people.

It is the first large-scale study of Covid-19 reinfections and highlights the urgency to roll out the vaccine to older age groups.

The researchers said their findings, published today in The Lancet medical journal, show how important it is to implement policies to protect the elderly during the pandemic.

Dr Steen Ethelberg, from the Statens Serum Institut of Denmark, said: “Our study confirms what a number of others appeared to suggest: reinfection with Covid-19 is rare in younger, healthy people, but the elderly are at greater risk of catching it again.

“Since older people are also more likely to experience severe disease symptoms and, sadly, die our findings make clear how important it is to implement policies to protect the elderly during the
pandemic.

“Given what is at stake, the results emphasise how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had Covid-19.

“Our insights could also inform policies focused on wider vaccination strategies and the easing of lockdown restrictions.”

Importantly, the authors pointed out that the timeframe of their study meant it was not possible to estimate protection against reinfection with Covid-19 variants, some of which are known to be more
transmissible.

Further studies are needed to assess how protection against repeat infection might vary with different Covid-19 strains.

Dr Daniela Michlmayr, one of the study’s authors, added: “In our study, we did not identify anything to indicate that protection against reinfection declines within six months of having Covid-19.

"The closely related coronaviruses SARS and MERS have both been shown to confer immune protection against reinfection lasting up to three years, but ongoing analysis of Covid-19 is needed to understand its long-term effects on patients’ chances of becoming infected again.”

The findings highlight the need to get the vaccination roll-out back on track. However, even if the AstraZeneca vaccine gets the all-clear for use in Ireland again, it will take days to set up new clinics.

Optimism is growing that the European Medicine Agency’s investigation will show the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk, following a probe into reports around blood-clotting events in a number of people who received the jab.

The HSE said yesterday it has 49,100 doses of the vaccine in its cold chain store; 30,000 inoculations were cancelled this week after the jab was temporarily suspended.

A spokeswoman said: “We are working today and over the next few days to decide on our approach in light of the most recent advice.

“If we are advised to resume administering AstraZeneca, we would expect to be able to do so within a few days of that advice.”

The World Health Organisation said yesterday it considers that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks” and “recommends that vaccinations continue”.

It said: “Vaccination against Covid-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently. Venous thromboembolism is the third most common cardiovascular disease globally.

“In extensive vaccination campaigns, it is routine for countries to signal potential adverse events following immunisation. This does not necessarily mean the events are linked to vaccination.”

Meanwhile, GPs have been told the roll-out of the Pifzer and Moderna vaccines to the 75- to 79-year-olds will be down by 35-40pc next week.

The letter from the Irish Medical Organisation said that “vaccine allocation remains limited by supply”.

It means a significant number of people in this age group face a delay. The doses will be delivered to GPs in the next allocation.

They are to get 80,500 vaccines next week and are guaranteed second doses for those aged 80 and over.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he and US President Joe Biden discussed vaccine
supplies yesterday.

He said the logistical challenge that the US is facing is similar to that in Ireland.

"Like every other country, he is very anxious to get his people vaccinated as quickly as he possibly can and to have a sufficiency of vaccines to do
that.

"His main focus right now is on getting his own people vaccinated, just like every country is."


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