Vaccination against COVID-19 remains crucial even for young adults who have been previously infected

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We mark International Immunization Week with a dose of valuable and responsible information.

Although antibodies produced by SARS-CoV-2 infection have a largely protective role, they do not fully protect against reinfection in young people, as evidenced by a study of more than 3,000 healthy young people who are members of the Corps. US Marines, a study conducted by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai and the Naval Medical Research Center. The study data were recently published on April 15 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“Our findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is common in healthy young adults,” said Stuart Sealfon, MD, Sara B. and Seth M. Glickenhaus, a professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai. “Despite a previous COVID-19 infection, young people can get the virus again and pass it on to others. This is an important point to know and remember as vaccination campaigns continue. Young people should receive the vaccine whenever possible, as vaccination is needed to stimulate immune responses, prevent reinfection and reduce transmission. ”

The study, conducted between May and November 2020, found that approximately 10% (19 of 189) of participants who had previously been infected with SARS-CoV-s (seropositive) were reinfected, compared to 50% of new infections (1,079 of 2,247) of participants who had not been previously infected (seronegative). While HIV-negative participants had a five-fold higher risk of infection than HIV-positive participants, the study showed that HIV-positive people are still at risk for reinfection.

To understand why these reinfections occurred, the authors studied the antibody responses of reinfected and uninfected participants. They found that, among the HIV-positive group, participants who were reinfected had lower levels of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus than those who did not. In addition, in the HIV-positive group, neutralizing antibodies were uncommon (neutralizing antibodies were detected in 45 (83%) of 54 uninfected and in six (32%) of 19 participants who were reinfected during the six weeks of observation).

Comparing new infections between seropositive and seronegative participants, the authors found that the viral load (measurable amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus) in reinfected seropositive recruits was on average only 10 times lower than in infected seronegative participants, which could it meant that some reinfected individuals might still have the ability to transmit the infection. The authors note that this will require further investigation.

In the study, most new cases of COVID-19 were asymptomatic – 84% (16 of 19 participants) in the HIV-positive group compared to 68% (732 of 1,079 participants) in the seronegative group – or had mild symptoms and none he was hospitalized.

The study’s authors strongly suggest that young people with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection be targeted for vaccination, as efforts must be made to prevent transmission and prevent infection among this group.

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