A key question concerning coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is how effective and long lasting immunity against this disease is in individuals who were previously infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We aimed to evaluate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 re-infections in the general population in Austria.
This is a retrospective observational study using national SARS-CoV-2 infection data from the Austrian epidemiological reporting system. As the primary outcome, we aim to compare the odds of SARS-CoV-2 re-infections of COVID-19 survivors of the first wave (February to April 30, 2020) versus the odds of first infections in the remainder general population by tracking polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed infections of both groups during the second wave from September 1 to November 30, 2020. Re-infection counts are tentative, since it cannot be excluded that the positive PCR in the first and/or second wave might have been a false positive.
We recorded 40 tentative re-infections in 14,840 COVID-19 survivors of the first wave (0.27%) and 253,581 infections in 8,885,640 individuals of the remaining general population (2.85%) translating into an odds ratio (95% confidence interval) of 0.09 (0.07 to 0.13).
We observed a relatively low re-infection rate of SARS-CoV-2 in Austria. Protection against SARS-CoV-2 after natural infection is comparable to the highest available estimates on vaccine efficacies. Further well-designed research on this issue is urgently needed for improving evidence-based decisions on public health measures and vaccination strategies.
Archived Files and Locations
There are no accessible files associated with this release. You could check other releases for this work for an accessible version.
access all versions, variants, and formats of this works (eg, pre-prints)