Recovered Covid patients are re-infected with new strains of the virus, the WHO says


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A laboratory technician uses a single-channel pipette dropper to test the material during processing of the Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in a laboratory in the suburb of Dunkeld, Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.

Waldo Swiegers | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Preliminary reports from South Africa show that people who have recovered from Covid-19 are re-infected with a new, more contagious variant of the virus, World Health Organization officials said at a news briefing on Friday.

The good news, however, is that vaccines developed to protect against the virus reduce the severity of the disease in those who develop Covid-19, even if it does not fully protect them from infection, said the WHO’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan.

“The [vaccine] trials conducted so far in South Africa, as well as in Brazil with various candidates, have shown complete protection against serious illness and hospitalization and death. No cases have been reported in any of the trials, “she said.

According to the WHO, vaccination can also reduce the spread of new variants of Covid.

“There are now reports that the viral load is if you have the vaccine and get infected much less. So the chances of infecting others may be less,” Swaminathan said.

Previous Covidom infections produce antibodies and cell-mediated immunity that are thought to prevent re-infection, scientists have discovered. Vaccination also helps individuals build protection against the virus.

But researchers continue to study the extent to which previous infection and vaccination protect against new, more contagious versions of the coronavirus.

Only increased vaccination efforts are probably insufficient to manage the spread of coronavirus strains originating in the UK, etc. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said CNBC on Thursday. Gottlieb said the combination of the upcoming warmer weather and intensified vaccinations could help keep that variant.

Swaminathan stressed at a WHO briefing on Friday the importance of vaccinated people who continue to take precautions such as wearing masks, washing their hands and socially distancing themselves to control the spread of the virus.

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