People who got Covid at Christmas do not have protection from current wave, expert warns 5 months ago

People who got Covid at Christmas do not have protection from current wave, expert warns

Happy Monday.

Those who contracted Covid-19 around Christmas in 2021 do not have protection from the current wave of Covid-19 in Ireland, a leading virologist has warned.

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Dr Cillian de Gascun, the Director of the Irish Republic’s National Virus Reference Laboratory, gave the warning on RTÉ's This Week programme.

He warned that the BA.4 and BA.5 variants currently circulating in Ireland are “sufficiently different” from the BA.1 variant which caused a massive spike in infections in Ireland in December and January.

De Gascun did say, however, that those who were infected in March and April may still have "some protection" as the BA.2 variant was still dominant at that point.

"The problem is that people who were infected with BA.1 don't have protection against BA.4 and BA.5," he said.

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When quizzed if these people were at risk of reinfection, he said: "Yes, unfortunately."

The length of immunity following infection is believed to be somewhere between four and six months, but de Gascun warned that the immunity that comes with newer variants like Omicron is different than older variants.

"The durability of immunity against people who were infected by Omicron variants is maybe even shorter than the previous variants, Alpha and Delta," he said.

He advised that further booster vaccinations may be needed in this autumn to provide further protection to people during the winter months.

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"Based on what we've seen to date, it's not unreasonable to expect there will be an increase in cases, because human behaviour will change and more people will be indoors again," he said.