A study published Thursday in The Lancet appears to show that immunity acquired from a COVID-19 infection protects against hospitalization and death as well and for as long as two doses of an mRNA vaccine.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Covid-19 Forecasting Team and funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, showed that immunity that is gained by having the virus cut the risk of hospitalization and death from a second COVID-19 infection by 88%.
That protection lasted for at least 10 months, and lasted against all variants of the coronavirus, the study found.
“This is really good news, in the sense that protection against severe disease and death after infection is really quite sustained at 10 months,” the senior study author, Dr. Christopher Murray, said.
Murray is the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
The study also showed that the immunity one gets from infection appears to wane more slowly than the immunity you would get from two doses of an mRNA vaccine.
The protection from reinfection is not lifelong, however. The study’s authors still recommend getting a vaccination against the virus that killed more than 1 million Americans.
“The problem of saying ‘I’m gonna get infected to get immunity’ is you might be one of those people that end up in the hospital or die,” Murray said. “Why would you take the risk when you can get immunity through vaccination quite safely?”
The researchers used data from 65 studies conducted in 19 countries and compared the risk of a person being reinfected with COVID-19 to people who had not been infected with the virus.
People who were vaccinated and who also had the virus were not included in the study.
The study’s results surprised some who did not expect to see the level of protection acquired from an infection to be so strong.
“The protection against severe infection, both the extent and the length of it at almost a year, is really surprisingly high,” Dr. Bob Wachter, the chairman of the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told NBC.
Watcher was not involved with the research.
©2023 Cox Media Group