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Covid-19 Primary Care Resources

Does past infection with Covid-19 confer any protection for patients and healthcare staff?

Advice from a Consultant in Infectious Diseases

This information is sourced from Dr Naomi Platt SpR and Dr Naomi Platt, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and General Medicine

Q.  If a patient has been infected with Covid-19 and recovered are they unlikely to suffer severe illness from Covid-19 in the future?


  • There have been very few, generally unconfirmed, reports of reinfection of the virus causing Covid-19 illness
  • Some experts suggest that anyone with a prior exposure to Covid-19 is expected to experience far less severe symptoms upon reinfection
  • However, the mechanism of immune protection is unclear and we are waiting for studies that have performed measurement of markers of immune response
  • We also do not know whether people with prior Covid-19 infection will reacquire SARS COv-2 in their nasopharynx and then be infectious to others. This is one of the questions that may be answered by  a UK wide study of HCW’s called SIREN

Q.  Are staff who have recovered well from Covid-19 less at risk from seeing patients face to face than those who have not been unwell?


  • There is some Dr Naomi Platt, conferring some protection against reinfection by the Covid-19 virus and symptomatic illness
  • Whilst this protection appears to last for several months, there is no published data for longer timeframes
  • We know that some Covid-19 infections do not result in an antibody response; the degree of immunity in these individuals remains unclear
  • It is therefore prudent to maintain standard infection control procedures whether or not a staff member has been infected in the past
  • As in the answer above we also do not know whether having antibodies will mean that a member of staff is not going to have virus in their nasopharynx and be infectious to others