WHO chief scientist says reinfection rare; ICMR to study 3 cases

Pune: The World Health Organization‘s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that Covid-19 reinfection has been rare because only a few dozen cases have been reported among the 38 million who have already contracted the illness.

But she added that it can happen. “It can, and we are learning more about the immune system, ”she told TOI in an email interview. When asked about the development of antibodies, Swaminathan said studies have shown antibodies do develop – even if the infection has been mild.

The ICMR, meanwhile, has announced it plans to study certain Covid reinfection cases: two from Mumbai and one from Ahmedabad. Experts from the research agency said there were considering a cut-off period of 100 days – between first encounter and emergence – to describe ‘Covid reinfection’. Dr Samiran Panda, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, said evaluation is on and a high-powered committee has been set up to closely monitor the situation. “But it is not a public health concern of severe magnitude,” Panda told TOI. Panda said though SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, was found to be mutating, the changes were negligible, without consequence on infectivity.

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