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Oxford University researchers have said that, at least in the short term, "most people who get COVID-19 won't get it again." The news gives an added boost to the potential effectiveness of a vaccine.
Individuals infected with the coronavirus are unlikely to catch it again for at least another six months, according to an Oxford University study published on Friday.
"We can be confident that, at least in the short term, most people who get COVID-19 won't get it again," said Professor David Eyre, one of the authors of the research.
The news is an added boost to those hoping for a vaccine to be rolled out within weeks as the coronavirus antibodies provided from the inoculation would appear to be strong enough to have a lasting effect.
Eyre said the findings were "really good news" while the director of infection prevention and control at study partners Oxford University Hospitals (OUH), Katie Jeffery, described the development as "exciting."
The study drew on data from regular testing of 12,180 healthcare workers over a period of 30 weeks. It found that none of the 1,246 staff with antibodies developed a symptomatic infection.
US firm Moderna announced this week its vaccine candidate was nearly 95% effective in a trial, a week after similar results were announced by pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
The news of the immunity evidence has been welcomed across the globe, including by the World Health Organization.
"We are seeing sustained levels of immune response in humans so far," Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergency expert, said. "It also gives us hope on the vaccine side."
But Maria van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, cautioned: "We still need to follow these individuals for a longer period of time to see how long immunity lasts."