Reinfection With Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Among Previously Infected Healthcare Personnel and First Responders

Clin Infect Dis. 2022 Aug 24;75(1):e201-e207. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab952.


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus testing among first responders and healthcare personnel who participated in a May 2020-August 2020 serosurvey that assessed spike protein antibodies provided an opportunity to assess reinfection.

Methods: Serology survey data were merged with virus testing results from Rhode Island (1 March 2020-17 February 2021) and New York City (10 March 2020-14 December 2020). Participants with a positive virus test ≥14 days before their serology test were included. Reinfection was defined as a second positive SARS-CoV-2 test ≥90 days after the first positive test. The association between serostatus and reinfection was assessed with a proportional hazards model.

Results: Among 1572 previously infected persons, 40 (2.5%) were reinfected. Reinfection differed by serostatus: 8.4% among seronegative vs 1.9% among seropositive participants (P < .0001). Most reinfections occurred among Rhode Island nursing home and corrections personnel (n = 30) who were most frequently tested (mean 30.3 tests vs 4.6 for other Rhode Island and 2.3 for New York City participants). The adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) for reinfection in seropositive vs seronegative persons was 0.41 (95% confidence interval [CI], .20-.81). Exposure to a household member with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) before the serosurvey was also protective (aHR, 0.34; 95% CI, .13-.89).

Conclusions: Reinfections were uncommon among previously infected persons over a 9-month period that preceded widespread variant circulation. Seropositivity decreased reinfection risk. Lower reinfection risk associated with exposure to a household member with COVID-19 may reflect subsequently reduced household transmission.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; antibody; first responders; healthcare personnel; reinfection.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Emergency Responders*
  • Humans
  • Reinfection / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2