COVID-19 can hit recovered patients after antibodies start depleting: ICMR

Published: 21 October, 2020 09:49 IST | IANS | New Delhi

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier informed that the ICMR had set up a committee of experts to study reported cases of reinfection among Covid-19 patients

A health worker collects a swab sample from a resident to test for COVID-19 at a testing centre in New Delhi. Pic/AFP
A health worker collects a swab sample from a resident to test for COVID-19 at a testing centre in New Delhi. Pic/AFP

Patients who have recovered from Covid-19 can again get infected by the virus once the antibodies of the viral disease starts depleting, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday.

"According to the Centre for Disease Control (USA), you call it a reinfection (of Covid-19) if the person is reinfected after 90 days from turning negative to the Sars-CoV-2 after testing positive to it.

"However, there are multiple studies which suggest that the antibodies that develop after Covid-19 sustain for up to five months," said Balram Bhargava, Director-General of ICMR, while answering a query in the weekly press briefing of the Union Health Ministry.

"Since the disease is new, we do not have any further information about it. However, people can recontract the infection if antibodies start depleting from the body," he added.

Bhargava also stressed that one should not become complacent, and follow all precautionary measures such as wearing mask, staying cautious and not relying on antibodies to astray the re-contraction.

"Even after contracting the virus, one must not avoid using a mask," he cautioned.

Bhargava also informed that the ICMR is conducting an assessment on the subject of reinfection as commissioned by the Union Health Ministry, and its result will be out shortly.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier informed that the ICMR had set up a committee of experts to study reported cases of reinfection among Covid-19 patients. However, he had termed some of the supposed cases of Covid reinfections that had been reported as "misclassified".

As per the ICMR, so far, three cases of reinfection have been reported in the country -- two from Mumbai and one from Ahmedabad. The apex body of medical research had also stated that the cut-off date for depletion of antibodies set by it for the assessment is 100 days from the infection.

"There are various cut-off days that are being referred to for reinfection. Though the public is going by up to 110 days, we are taking 100 days as the cut-off period because the antibodies last until then," Bhargava had said.

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