COVID-19 reinfection likely for unvaccinated, study suggests

New modeling estimates suggest natural immunity from a COVID-19 infection fades quickly, leaving individuals susceptible to reinfection, according to a study published Oct. 1 in The Lancet Microbe.

Researchers at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Public Health and Charlotte-based University of North Carolina analyzed data on seven types of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. They used this data, along with their knowledge of evolutionary principles, to model the risk of COVID-19 reinfection among unvaccinated people. 

Under endemic conditions, the model projected reinfection would likely occur between three and 63 months after peak antibody response, with the median time being 16 months. 

"Reinfection can reasonably happen in three months or less," lead author Jeffrey Townsend, PhD, the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health, said in a news release. "Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. Previous infection alone can offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections."

Researchers also predicted reinfection will become "increasingly common" as COVID-19 transitions into an endemic disease. 

To view the full study, click here.


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