Cases of COVID-19 Re-infection in England

Dawn O'Shea

June 22, 2021

Almost 16,000 cases of possible SARS-CoV-2 reinfection have been reported in England since June 2020, new data from Public Health England (PHE) show.

This is the first time that PHE has published population surveillance data on possible cases of COVID-19 reinfections. The current data show that the risk of reinfection is low.

Between June 2020 and the end of May 2021, there were 15,893 possible reinfections documented in England, out of nearly 4 million people with confirmed infections. This is equivalent to around 0.4% of cases becoming reinfected.

A possible reinfection is defined as consecutive positive test results in the same person at least 90 days apart, but the viruses have not been sequenced.

Furthermore, there were 478 probable reinfections — where sequencing of the second sample identifies a variant known to be circulating now and/or that was not circulating at the time of the first test.

A total of 53 confirmed reinfections were reported. A case of reinfection occurs where sequences are available from each episode and the sequences are genetically distinct.

Dr Susan Hopkins, Strategic Director for COVID-19 at PHE, said: "People are understandably concerned about whether you can catch COVID-19 more than once. While we know that people can catch viruses more than once, this data currently suggests that the rate of COVID-19 reinfection is low."

There is currently no evidence that the Delta variant or any other variants of concern are more likely to cause reinfection than others, but PHE says it will be monitoring this closely.

References: New national surveillance of possible COVID-19 reinfection, published by PHE. Public Health England. 2021 June 17.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network

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