COVID-19 reinfections are quite rare, but elderly patients are more predisposed to catching them again, according to a research paper published in the Lancet.
The peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet medical journal Wednesday evening stated that most people who get infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are protected from catching it again for at least six months, however, people aged 65 and older are more prone to getting infected more than once.
To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 120 million cases and 2.6 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The study was conducted by a team of researchers, comprising some from Denmark's Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.
It was carried out in Denmark in 2020, with the conclusions substantiating that only a modest proportion of people (0.65 per cent) returned a positive PCR test twice.
PCR tests are viewed as the gold standard and ascertain if you currently have the virus. Approximately 4 million people underwent tests in Denmark. Whilst prior infection in people under the age of 65 gave them around 80 per cent protection against reinfection, those aged 65 and older were conferred only 47 per cent protection, demonstrating that they are more likely to catch coronavirus again.
"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," Dr. Steen Ethelberg, from the Statens Serum Institut, Denmark, said.