Past SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Against Re-infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

COVId-19 Forecasting Team

Understanding the level and characteristics of protection from past SARS-CoV-2 infection against subsequent re-infection, symptomatic COVID-19 disease, and severe disease is essential for predicting future potential disease burden, for designing policies that restrict travel or access to venues where there is a high risk of transmission, and for informing choices about when to receive vaccine doses. We aimed to systematically synthesise studies to estimate protection from past infection by variant, and where data allow, by time since infection.

… Our findings show that immunity from COVID-19 infection confers substantial protection against infection from pre-omicron variants. By comparison, protection against re-infection from the omicron BA.1 variant was substantially reduced and wanes rapidly over time. Protection against severe disease, although based on scarce data, was maintained at a relatively high level up to 1 year after the initial infection for all variants. Our analysis suggests that the level of protection from past infection by variant and over time is at least equivalent if not greater than that provided by two-dose mRNA vaccines.

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