Unvaccinated people are more likely to be reinfected with the coronavirus, according to a group of researchers.
A team of researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that protection from natural infection is limited.
- “Reinfection can reasonably happen in three months or less,” said Jeffrey Townsend, the Elihu Professor of Biostatistics at the Yale School of Public Health, in a statement. “Therefore, those who have been naturally infected should get vaccinated. Previous infection alone can offer very little long-term protection against subsequent infections.”
- “We tend to think about immunity as being immune or not immune. Our study cautions that we instead should be more focused on the risk of reinfection through time,” said Alex Dornburg, assistant professor of bioinformatics and genomics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, according to a news release.
The findings were published in The Lancet Microbe, a medical journal.
- The team found that reinfections can happen shortly after recovery.
- And they will become more common as natural immunity wanes from the virus.
This is especially true for those infected early in the pandemic. Variants will make it harder for someone infected early to stay safe from the virus.
- “As new variants arise, previous immune responses become less effective at combating the virus,” Dornburg said. “Those who were naturally infected early in the pandemic are increasingly likely to become reinfected in the near future.”
Scientists have been researching how people with natural immunity respond to COVID-19 infections. Specifically, there have been questions about whether or not natural infection can protect you as well as, if not better, than the vaccines — especially when the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it’s still unclear if the natural immunity can stop COVID-19 infection as well as the vaccine, per The Washington Examiner.
- “I don’t have a really firm answer for you on that. That’s something that we’re going to have to discuss regarding the durability of the response,” Fauci said.
Fauci said, in fact, that it’s possible someone who was infected naturally might not as be as protected as someone who got vaccinated, as I wrote for the Deseret News.