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virus immunity People infected with Covid-19 'immune for six months'

Previously the guideline on re-infection only extended three months.

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People who are infected with Covid-19 can expect to be free of re-infection for six months, according to a new review by the country's patient safety watchdog.

Previously the guideline on re-infection only extended three months.

The new guidance does not apply to currently known new strains of the virus.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) yesterday published its advice to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on the duration of immunity.

It also advised on protection from reinfection.

The advice has been accepted by Nphet.

This advice was informed by international evidence and expert opinion, from the Covid-19 Expert Advisory Group.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa's deputy CEO and director of health technology assessment, said: "We have advised Nphet that presumptive immunity should be extended to six months post-infection.

"The risk of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 is low and no evidence was found to suggest that immunity wanes over this period."

The previous guidance in Ireland was that immunity lasts for at least 12 weeks.

Dr Ryan continued: "With regards to guidance, we have recommended that the post-infection exemption for close contacts be extended to six months in line with this evidence."

The studies Hiqa examined were conducted prior to December 2020, since then new variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been found and vaccines have begun roll-out.

Therefore, the applicability of the findings to the new strains and vaccinated populations is unknown.

Hiqa said it will continue to review the question of immunity and monitor the latest international evidence and national surveillance data.

Responses

The report said that evidence from five large cohort studies demonstrated that the risk of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 is very low up to seven months post-infection.

The evidence cited included three studies that enrolled healthcare workers.

These findings were supported by evidence of long-term duration of T and B-cell responses up to eight months post-infection.

The included studies provided estimates in the general population and in healthcare workers.

It is unclear if the findings are generalisable to other populations such as the elderly, those with comorbidities and immunocompromised individuals.




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