The Daily Telegraph

Recovered patients have six months’ immunity, Swedish studies suggest

Expert says Scandinavi­an country has seen no cases of people falling ill again after first bout of virus

- By

Anne Gulland

PEOPLE who have recovered from the coronaviru­s are likely to be immune to the disease for six months, whether they have antibodies or not, Sweden’s state epidemiolo­gist said yesterday.

Dr Anders Tegnell, who has led the country’s controvers­ial response to the pandemic, said that so far no cases of people falling ill twice from Covid-19 had been reported.

“Hence our assessment is if you do get Covid-19 you are immune, even if you don’t develop antibodies,” he said.

In new guidance, the Swedish Public Health Agency said that it was considered safe for individual­s who have been infected to come into contact with people in high-risk groups.

However, they must still abide by social distancing rules.

Dr Tegnell’s remarks are likely to spark debate as experts are still unsure how long immunity lasts. Recent studies have shown patients who recovered from the virus rapidly lose antibodies, the telltale markers that show whether you have had an infection.

However, other immunity responses are also used by the body, including the T-cells, which research shows play a vital role in fighting the disease and providing long-lasting immunity.

Dr Tegnell made his comments at a press conference where he laid out three scenarios for the future trajectory of the pandemic in Sweden.

In the most likely scenario, there would be around 3,000 more deaths, he said. However, in the worst case, there could be a further 5,800 deaths related to the virus.

Dr Tegnell said a more likely scenario would see clusters of new cases around the country which would then quickly subside. That is a scenario

“we’ve seen now in different parts of the world, and which seems like something Covid-19 is creating more than most other diseases”, Dr Tegnell said.

Sweden’s response to the virus has been closely watched as its government chose not to go into lockdown. Officials have argued lockdowns only work temporaril­y and drastic shortterm measures are too ineffectiv­e to justify their impact.

The country of 10 million has one of the highest virus death rates in the world. It has had 5,600 deaths, a much higher toll than neighbouri­ng Denmark, with around 600 deaths in a population of five million.

However, daily death rates as well as the number of infected in intensive care in Sweden have been slowing gradually since April, with only seven new deaths reported yesterday.

“It really is yet another sign that the Swedish strategy is working,” Dr Tegnell added. “It is possible to slow contagion fast with the measures we are taking in Sweden.”

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