Those who successfully fight off COVID-19 infections are likely to have immunity for at least five months, according to Public Health England (PHE).
The health body’s latest study suggested that people who’d already caught the virus had around 83% protection.
Results showed that the chances of being reinfected are small – with samples finding just 44 new cases found among 6,614 previously infected people.
However, PHE did issue a warning that even those with antibodies can continue to carry and spread the virus.
The findings also suggested that those who caught the virus in the first wave back in spring may now be susceptible again, with immunity possibly diminishing in that period.
Professor Susan Hopkins, strategic response director for coronavirus at PHE stated: “We now know that most of those who have had the virus, and developed antibodies, are protected from reinfection, but this is not total and we do not yet know how long protection lasts.
“This means even if you believe you already had the disease and are protected, you can be reassured it is highly unlikely you will develop severe infections. But there is still a risk you could acquire an infection and transmit (it) to others.”
The research, known as the ‘Siren’ study, has been taking place since the summer – involving thousands of healthcare workers.
Participants will continue being assessed over the coming weeks and months to determine whether immunity lasts longer in certain people.
The government has been ramping up testing and vaccinations across the country during January.