Can you get infected with the corona virus a second time? Or does an infection provide immunity for at least a while? It’s a question that has been debated for months. A new study indicates that a previous corona infection does protect against a new infection. Virologist Johan Neyts is cautiously optimistic. “This is especially important because it indicates that a vaccine is likely to work.”
The research in question is a study by the University of Washington, in the US, that came about by chance. They investigated a corona outbreak on a fishing vessel. The 122 crew had been tested before departure and all tested negative. Nevertheless, the ship, which had left in May, had to return after 18 days because COVID-19 had broken out. As many as 103 crew members (86 percent) were found to be infected.
So at least one infected person had slipped through the net, with major consequences. But what also turned out? Three crew members with pre-detected antibodies tested negative. So they had been infected before and they had not become infected again.
What does that mean?
“It is a small study, but it provides good evidence that an initial infection protects against a new infection”, reacts virologist Johan Neyts (KU Leuven) in “The world today” on Radio 1. “It points out that if one already has been infected with coronavirus and comes into contact with the virus again some time later, one is very likely protected against the infection. ”
But haven’t there been several reports of people getting infected a second time? That’s right, but so far it’s about anecdotal stories for which there may have been other explanations. “Now and then there is indeed some coverage about this, but there are no good studies that show that someone has already been infected twice,” said Neyts.