Warning having had Covid won’t stop you catching or spreading it again

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Having had the coronavirus is not a 100 per cent guarantee that you won’t catch, or spread, Covid – according to Public Health England.

Dr Susan Hopkins, deputy director of the national infection service of Public Health England (PHE) said having had a Covid-19 infection was not 100% protective against being re-infected.

But she told BBC Breakfast that prior infection “looks like it’s acting similarly to the vaccine, and it may be that the vaccine will boost this immune response and allow people to have an even better immune activation in future.”

She said infected people in PHE’s Siren study “had rapid high levels of antibodies that fell quickly and then got to a baseline.

“And the vast majority of people have remained to that baseline level, and only a very small percentage, a couple of percent, have lost their antibody overall.”

On the ability for people who have had Covid-19 to transmit the virus to others, Dr Hopkins told BBC Breakfast that “with only 44 reinfections (in the study), we really don’t have enough people to be able to give you an accurate assessment of transmission”.

She added: “But what we know from those 44 is that a number of them have very high levels of virus… we also know that a number of those individuals were able to grow the virus. And usually when you grow the virus then you’re pretty sure that that person is going to be able to transmit live virus to somebody else.

“So that means that there are people who’ve had infection who can transmit to others. It’s not 100% protective.”

She said people who have been infected or had the vaccine should “not take any chances” by no longer following lockdown rules.

Dr Hopkins said PHE experts were looking at the new variant that has emerged Brazil and needed to grow the virus in the UK in order to perform laboratory experiments.

“So we need to understand the biology of these (new strains), as well as understanding mutations.

“We will be watching them all to make sure that they can’t escape your immune response, which is the key thing that we’re looking at the moment.”



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