On Wednesday, official data from Britain shows that survivors of COVID-19 who were reinfected with the virus had lower viral loads. They were less likely to experience symptoms. They were also less likely to spread infection. Scientists suggest that this shows that the disease is getting milder.
In April 2020, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in Britain began studying those who got COVID-19 to find out their risk of getting reinfected. The ONS tracked 19.470 infected people between April 2020 to July 2021. They reported that only 195 of those who were studied got reinfected and this is just one percent.
The study also looked at the cycle threshold (Ct) value in these people. The Ct value shows the amount of virus present in a nose or throat swab. A lower value indicates a higher amount of the coronavirus. The Ct value in the re-infected patients was 32.4. This indicates that their viral load was low.
An official report by Public Health England (PHE) found that reinfection was more common due to the delta variant which has become the most common variant in England and many parts of the world. It said that the risk was higher by 46 percent when compared with the alpha variant.
Real world analysis of the third wave in England in about 800,000 cases of those who were infected with the delta variant showed that about only 1.2 percent were possible reinfections. However, experts are not sure about how long immunity lasts.
Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham told the Daily Mail that there is good but not absolute protection from infection over a short period of time. Re-infected people had lower viral loads which made their infection mild. They also had reduced chances of transmitting the virus to others.
The professor also said that they thought that vaccines produced even higher levels of protection even in persons who were previously infected, and he would urge everyone to get both doses of COVID-19 vaccines.