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What can the ONS tell you about COVID-19 reinfections?

ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey participants help us identify COVID-19 reinfections by providing crucial monthly samples for testing.

Though the risk is relatively low, it is possible for people to be repeatedly reinfected, even if they believe they are protected by either natural immunity or vaccination.

What is a “reinfection”?

There are two ways ONS separate long term infections from reinfections in their data.

  • Prior to a positive test, if the participant has a gap of 120 days between their first positive test and their next negative test.

  • Alternatively, they have completed four negative tests since their first positive test.

These checks minimise the risk of incorrectly labelling a continuing infection as a reinfection.

Read more about ONS and their 'reinfection' research