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Hiqa advises NPHET to extend presumptive Covid immunity to nine months post-infection

Increasing the period of presumptive immunity from six to nine months would have “widespread positive implications for people”.

A health worker prepares to administer Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine (file photo)
A health worker prepares to administer Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine (file photo)
Image: AP/PA Images

THE HEALTH INFORMATION and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has advised the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to extend the period of presumptive Covid-19 immunity from six to nine months post-infection.

In a statement released today, Hiqa said increasing the period of presumptive immunity would have “widespread positive implications for people”.

It would also increase the number of under-50s who only need one dose of a vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

The organisation said this advice was “informed by a review of international evidence including 19 large cohort studies of reinfection involving over 640,000 previously infected individuals”.

It was also informed by 13 studies on immune memory response along with expert opinion from the Covid-19 Expert Advisory Group.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “We have advised NPHET that the period of presumptive immunity should be extended from six to nine months post-infection.

“Across all the studies we examined, the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection was consistently low, with no increase in infection risk over time. In addition, studies suggests that most people develop immune memory after a SARS-CoV-2 infection that lasts for at least nine months.”

In a statement, Ryan said that increasing the period of presumptive immunity from six to nine months would have “widespread positive implications for people”.

“For example, a person who has Covid-19 in the last nine months would be exempt from serial testing. A change would also increase the number of under-50s who only need one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.”

She added that the move would also have implications for the implementation and roll-out of the proposed green certificates for international travel.

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In its statement, Hiqa added that the potential impact of new Covid-19 variants on natural immunity is “evolving rapidly and needs to be kept under review”.

The Journal has contacted the Department of Health for comment.

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Órla Ryan

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