Reinfected COVID survivors less likely to spread virus: study

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Reinfected COVID survivors less likely to spread virus: study

COVID-19 survivors who become reinfected may be less likely to spread the disease or experience severe symptoms, a new study claims.

The patients had lower viral loads during their second bouts of the illness than during their initial infection, according to research from the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

Scientists looked at around 200 people who contracted the virus again more than 90 days after their first positive test or after four consecutive negative tests.

Most people who were reinfected also produced “significantly lower” so-called cycle threshold results in their tests during the first episode of illness, researchers said.

When the value is lower, the viral load is higher — and it could indicate that the patient is more contagious, researchers said.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccinations
The study showed that people who were reinfected with COVID-19 seemed to experience milder symptoms than the first time that they contracted the virus.
Mary Altaffer/AP

“Most people had a high viral load (low Ct value) in the initial episode and a lower viral load (high Ct value) in the reinfection episode, which suggests these individuals may have had a stronger immune response to the initial infection which helped them respond to the reinfection more effectively,” researchers said.

The study found that the risk of reinfection was low, with an estimated rate of 3.1 per 100,000 participants producing a “strong positive” test — meaning that the results indicated significant levels of viral load in their swabs.

Those who were reinfected also appeared to experience milder symptoms than the first time that they contracted the illness.

“People were more likely to report symptoms within 35 days following the first observed positive test in their initial episode than in their reinfection episode, suggesting that reinfections may be more likely to be asymptomatic,” researchers wrote.

The research, which was part of a partnership with the University of Oxford, was conducted between late April and mid-July as the highly contagious Delta variant spread to become the dominant strain in the UK and caused a new wave of cases.

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