Virologist Professor Wendy Barclay from Imperial College London said the new coronavirus is behaving in a similar fashion to seasonal coronaviruses – which are responsible for the common cold.
Prof Barclay, who is one of the authors of new research which found that people’s immunity built up after a Covid-19 infection could only last a few months as their levels of protective antibodies decline, told Times Radio: “This new coronavirus seems to be behaving in a somewhat similar fashion to the seasonal coronaviruses that have been in humans for decades, if not hundreds of thousands of years.
“And for them we know that you do get reinfected every one or two years because your immunity, whether it’s made up of antibodies or T-cells, fades away to such an extent that you can become reinfected.”
On the concept of an ‘immunity passport’ – whereby people could go about their lives as normal after an infection – she added: “This concept of a passport for immunity – at the moment it is not a good idea because individuals can vary quite a lot in the sort of quality of the antibody response they make.
“We wouldn’t like people to go out and change their behaviour thinking they were protected when they are not.
“What’s more, the study we’ve published shows that if you had to test one month, then you might need to be taking the test the next month or the month after because your antibody levels might change over time.”