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Covid-19 reinfection is rare, but more common for those above age 65 – study

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Most people who have had coronavirus are protected from catching it again for at least six months, but those aged 65 and over are more prone to reinfection, new research suggests.

Large-scale assessment of reinfection rates in Denmark in 2020 confirms that only a small proportion of people (0.65%) returned a positive PCR test twice.

However, while prior infection gave those under the age of 65 years around 80% protection against reinfection, for people aged 65 and older it only gave 47% protection, indicating that they are more likely to catch Covid-19 again.

According to the study published in The Lancet, the researchers detected no evidence that protection against reinfection declined within a six-month follow-up period.

Our study confirms what a number of others appeared to suggest: reinfection with Covid-19 is rare in younger, healthy people, but the elderly are at greater risk of catching it again

Dr Steen Ethelberg, from the Statens Serum Institut, Denmark, said: “Our study confirms what a number of others appeared to suggest: reinfection with Covid-19 is rare in younger, healthy people, but the elderly are at greater risk of catching it again.

“Since older people are also more likely to experience severe disease symptoms, and sadly die, our findings make clear how important it is to implement policies to protect the elderly during the pandemic.

“Given what is at stake, the results emphasise how important it is that people adhere to measures implemented to keep themselves and others safe, even if they have already had Covid-19.

“Our insights could also inform policies focused on wider vaccination strategies and the easing of lockdown restrictions.”

The authors of the new study analysed data collected as part of Denmark’s national Covid-19 testing strategy, through which more than two-thirds of the population (69%, four million people) were tested in 2020.

Free, national PCR testing – open to anyone, regardless of symptoms – is one of the central pillars of Denmark’s strategy to control Covid-19.

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