Young COVID Survivors Can Get Reinfected

Reinfected Marines also had lower levels of antibodies from their initial combat, compared to Marines who were not reinfected.

“Two-thirds of the 19 Marines who were re-infected did not have measurable neutralizing antibodies,” Sealfon noted, suggesting that some infected people do not generate antibodies.

The good news: Having antibodies after infection protects you against re-infection. The bad news: Even if you’ve had COVID, there is still a risk that you will have it again.

“This might not be a problem for the patient, and certainly young people – like those in our study – are mostly asymptomatic,” Sealfon said. “But that can certainly mean that there is a risk that they could then pass on a new infection to those who are more vulnerable.”

This means that wearing a mask, social distancing, and vaccination will always be important, regardless of your history of infection.

“Vaccination to provide additional protection is always warranted for those who have been infected,” Sealfon said. “Because we know that you certainly increase your antibody response with vaccination, even if you already have antibodies.”

But Dr Sandro Cinti, professor of infectious diseases at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, said it was best not to read the results too much.

“These are the first results, with a very small number of patients,” he noted. “You have to be very careful in interpreting all the COVID studies that are coming out now, many of which have not been peer reviewed.”

Cinti said that a viral infection usually provides protection against further infection.

“Is there a possibility of re-infection with COVID? Maybe,” he says. “But none of these studies answer this question almost definitively. The only definitive thing is that we just don’t really know.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that all people 18 and older get vaccinated, whether or not they have had COVID, Cinti said.

“It makes sense because we know the rate of protection with vaccination is around 95%, and we don’t know what the rate of protection is for COVID patients,” he said. “I suspect it’s that high, but we don’t know.”

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Jothi Venkat

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