Latest COVID-19 surge is mostly infecting Australians who have not had the disease before – ABC News

by | Jan 3, 2023 | COVID-19

The latest COVID-19 outbreak is largely sweeping through Australians who have not yet had the disease.Key points:Only 20 per cent of recently detected cases in the ACT are reinfectionsThe data suggests past infection is a partial defence against getting the disease againReinfection remains a greater risk for older and chronically ill peopleOnly one in five people who reported an infection in December were known to have had COVID-19 previously, according to the ACT government.While data is unavailable for most of the country, the numbers from the ACT suggest that past exposure to the disease provides some protection against the prevailing strains.This contrasts with widely publicised concerns that newer COVID-19 subvariants are highly effective at evading the body’s immune defences.The ACT is one of few jurisdictions that reports its reinfection rate, though its outbreaks largely mirrored those in New South Wales and Victoria last year.About 46 per cent of Australians had already had COVID-19 by June last year, according to an analysis of antibodies in blood samples.That proportion is almost certainly far higher today. This, combined with the ACT data, suggests a previous infection is strongly associated with avoiding infection during this latest surge.Infectious diseases specialist Sanjaya Senanayake, an associate professor at the Australian National University, said the ACT data reflected what was happening overseas.Singapore, for example, was also reporting that about 20 per cent of known new cases were reinfections.Dr Senanayake said this relatively small number of reinfections showed that immunity — whether from vaccines or past exposure — was working for most people.”It’s hard to differentiate, in a place like Australia, between purely vaccine-induced immunity and infection-induced immunity, because many of us have both b …

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