Representation Image Covid-19 Vaccine Vials Johaehn/ Pixabay

If we go by a new study, a previous Covid-19 infection provides the same level of immunity as two doses of high-quality vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The study, titled "Past SARS-CoV-2 infection protection against re-infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis," was published in The Lancet on Feb. 16. It also noted that people who are infected with the virus may be protected from reinfection for at least 40 weeks or longer.

It was found that immunity from reinfection was highest for the original strain of Covid-19 and the alpha, beta and delta variants. It remained at more than 78% after 40 weeks.

Immunity was lower for the omicron BA.1 variant, as the figure dropped to 36.1% in the same period, reported New York Post.

As for severe diseases like hospitalization or death, protection was high across all variants. The average was 78% or higher for ancestral, alpha, beta, delta and omicron BA.1 variant at 40 weeks after Covid-19 infection.

The level of protection went down with time for all the variants. But it dropped fastest for the omicron BA.1 variant.

The study was led by a group of researchers that make up the COVID-19 Forecasting Team.

Immunity from prior infection and immunity from vaccines provide significant protection against severe illness and some protection for a few months against getting the virus again, Dr. Marc Siegel, professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City told Fox News.

He said that this is the reason that he doesn't generally recommend the "vaccine booster for at least a few months following infection."

The strongest immunity is a combination of both, which is known as hybrid immunity, said the expert. But he would never recommend that anyone gets infected deliberately.

He said that it's too "unpredictable in terms of disease outcome and the risk of long Covid."

Researchers behind the study had analyzed 65 studies across 19 countries. The studies compared individuals who had previously recovered from Covid-19 to those who had not been infected through last September.

The researchers noted in the findings that this is the first study to "comprehensively assess natural immunity protection against COVID-19 reinfection by variant (primary infection and reinfection) and to evaluate waning immunity with time since primary infection."

As for the limitations, there was a low number of studies to evaluate and not much data was available beyond the 40-week mark.

Also, the studies relied on different methods to determine previous infection status. They included testing for antibodies and looking at prior Covid-19 test results.

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