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December 2, 2020

COVID-19 reinfection possible: ICMR

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One may get reinfected with the coronavirus if the antibodies against the infection diminish in the body in five months’ time after recovery, a top Indian Council of Medical Research official said on Tuesday, urging people to continue wearing face masks and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.

IMAGE: People are seen at a market amidst the spread of the coronavirus in the old quarters of Delhi. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

“We are looking at the data as to how many people got infected, then turned negative and then tested positive again. Typically, we know that antibodies persist for about three to five months.

“The CDC has said you call it a reinfection if a person gets reinfected after 90 days. We are looking at the data accordingly, as soon as we have it, we will present it to you,” ICMR Director General Balaram Bhargava said in response to a question at a press conference.


Elaborating further, he said some studies have suggested that antibodies last for three months while some others said they may last in the body for up to five months also.

It is a new disease and information regarding this is limited as of now, Bhargava said, adding that if antibodies decrease in the body of a person within five months of recovery, there is a possibility of reinfection with COVID-19.

“That is why following COVID-appropriate behaviour like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing has to be continued even after recovery,” he said.

In a press briefing last week, Bhargava had said the ICMR has decided on a 100-day cut-off for re-infection if it occurs as antibodies are also assumed to have a life of four months, according to some studies.

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