Recovery from coronavirus ‘WON’T stop people getting it again’, Sir Patrick Vallance warns – The Sun

CHIEF scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has today revealed that those who recover from the coronavirus are not exempt from getting the killer disease again.

So far in the UK there has been over 28,000 deaths due to the virus and over 191,000 confirmed cases across the country.

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Appearing in front of the Health and Social Care Committee today, Sir Patrick admitted that the government was not yet clear on immunity levels in those who have already had the virus.

Speaking on the Zoom meeting chaired by Jeremy Hunt he said: "Everything suggests you can get neutralising antibodies, those are antibodies which protect against the disease. 

"So you would expect some degree of protection from antibodies. We don't know that it provides absolute immunity and it almost certainly doesn't – it will provide some degree of protection.

"The other thing we don't know is whether it is still possible to carry the virus even if you have got antibodies.

"So that is more about whether you can still be infectious to someone else rather than whether you are protected against it."

Based on the lifespan of other viruses he said that the time frame for immunity may last from one to three years, but not for "many years".

Levels of infection from the coronavirus differ from county to county in the UK with places like densely populated cities like London being one of the worst affected areas as well as other regions such as the North West also having high case rates.


Sir Patrick also added that current information the government holds is on "antibody status" rather than how people develop immunity from the illness.

He went on to explain that there would be a variation in levels of antibodies across the country and said there is around 10 per cent antibody positivity in London, whereas other places come in at around four per cent.

Sir Patrick reiterated that current knowledge is around "antibody status" rather than immunity, and explained there will be a variation in the levels of antibodies across the country.

He said he would not expect to see antibody levels much above mid-teens.

Early on in the coronavirus pandemic it was revealed that the government had previously discussed locking London down first in order to curb the spread of the virus.

Asked if antibody data would mean each UK region was treated in the same way, he said there was "nothing to suggest that you should treat different regions differently.

"There may be other reasons such as local prevalence but as I said that comes with complexities. In terms of the vulnerability of the population, you would need to get to higher levels than that suggests that one place had a massively different protective environment to somewhere else from the population antibody, and we don't yet know exactly how much protection the antibody status gives."

His comments at the committee today come after Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam last night said that the early evidence showed "by and large" Covid-19 sufferers are developing antibodies to the virus, he did however reiterate that it did not show whether or not they were immune from the virus.

Speaking at the Number 10 daily press briefing last night he said: "One of the things we want to know is – when you've had Covid-19 do you get antibodies, do they protect you against further instances of the same illness, and how long are they going to protect you for?"

So far tests have shown the "overwhelming majority of people who've had definitely had the Covid-19 infection have got antibodies in their blood stream, which is a good thing," he explained.

Ultimately, he said that it may "take years" for scientists to get enough data to conclusively determine how long antibodies last.

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