A SCIENTIST who says he infected himself with coronavirus TWICE has warned of a “wave of mass reinfections” and claimed vaccines might not stop people falling ill.
Prof Alexander Chepurnov, 69, caught Covid-19 for the first time in February – then claimed he deliberately got it again to test if he still had antibodies.
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Dr Alexander Chepurnov says he caught coronavirus twice as an experiment[/caption]
The scientist deliberately exposed himself to infected patients to test his antibodies months after he recovered from the first bout[/caption]
Now the senior virologist has demanded an urgent study of people catching it twice and accused Russian authorities of not taking the risk seriously.
He hit back at medical chief Anna Popova for “closing her eyes” to the issue of reinfections in the country amid rising anecdotal reports of such cases.
“This is an incredibly important issue, and we must investigate it,” said Prof Chepurnov, senior researcher at the Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Novosibirsk.
“I might be completely wrong, and these were indeed just (a few) individual cases.
“Or possibly I am right, and we are about to face a wave of mass reinfections.”
He hit back at Dr Popova’s insistence there were no second infections in Russia and that his claims to have caught it twice were fake.
“Alexander Chepurnov is an elderly man, and I can only pass him my wishes for good health,” she said.
“To expose himself to patients while not wearing a mask is anyway nonsense for a doctor, regardless of whether he was sick in the past or not.
“We have investigated this situation and were unable to find evidence that this was actually a reinfection.”
He has since insisted he has documentary evidence of his first and second infections.
“I am afraid that Anna Popova is mistaken,” he said.
Russia’s health minister Mikhail Murashko also contradicted Dr Popova to say that there had been reinfection cases.
Prof Chepurnov, who says he first caught coronavirus on a skiing holiday in Italy, became famous in Russia when he used himself as a guinea pig.
He said his personal experiment showed he had antibodies for three months after his first infection, after which they reduced.
He then deliberately exposed himself to Covid patients while not wearing protective gear – and caught it again.
The second bout was worse and he ended up in hospital with double pneumonia, but has since recovered, he said.
The experiment led him to conclude hopes of “herd immunity” in a population are “overblown” and even that vaccines relying on antibodies might only work for a few months.
What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity refers to where enough people in a population have immunity to an infection to be able to effectively stop that disease from spreading.
Herd immunity is typically best achieved with vaccination.
While the term herd immunity is widely used, it can carry a variety of meanings.
The NHS outlines “herd immunity” as when enough people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, making it more difficult for it to spread to susceptible individuals who have not yet been or cannot be vaccinated.
Academics from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine wrote that while some use the term to describe the proportion of individuals in a community who are immune to a condition, others use it in reference to “a particular threshold proportion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in incidence of infection”.
They added: “A common implication of the term is that the risk of infection among susceptible individuals in a population is reduced by the presence and proximity of immune individuals.”
He said: “We need a vaccine that can be used multiple times, a recombinant vaccine will not suit.
“Once injected with an adenoviral vector-based vaccine, we won’t be able to repeat it because the immunity against the adenoviral carrier will keep interfering.”
The professor formerly worked at State Research Vector Centre of Virology and Biotechnology in Siberia, makers of Russia’s second Covid vaccine known as EpiVacCorona.
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Vladimir Putin has boasted the success of EpiVacCorona came after the “92 per cent effective” Sputnik V jab, which has already been given to thousands of Russians – although not the president.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a new major study said that Britain is “miles off” achieving herd immunity – and may never reach natural levels of protection.
Scientists at Imperial College London said immunity is “waning” and noted a 26 per cent drop in positive antibody tests in three months.
Anna Popova, Russia’s Chief State Sanitary Physician, denied anyone has been infected twice with coronavirus in the country[/caption]
Herd immunity is unlikely to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Russian virologist claimed[/caption]