The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat. With reports of reinfection of recovered cases coming to light, there is a new wave of panic and confusion.
The biggest question today is whether a recovered person is fully immune to the infection or not? Is it possible to get reinfected within a few weeks or months?
In today’s article, I will try and answer common questions relating to the reactivation or reinfection of COVID-19.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about COVID-19 reinfection and immunity
1. How do humans become immune to infectious diseases like COVID-19?
The immune system is the body’s natural defense against various illnesses. Our immune system produces antibodies to fight entrants like bacteria and viruses and also remembers the response they have developed. The main parts of the immune system are the following image:
This adaptive immunity is specific for each virus/bacteria and takes about 5-10 days to build an army of cells and antibodies to fight any infectious disease. The adaptive immunity stores a memory of that particular virus strain and prevents reinfection when the body is attacked again.
Immunity against COVID-19
It is clear from the recovered cases that our body is capable of producing antibodies against the virus responsible for COVID-19 (SARS-nCoV 2). However, this virus is continuously changing and evidence suggests that there are about 7-11 strains (varieties) of the new coronavirus. Currently, what might be happening is - an infected person might develop antibodies for a specific strain and have protection only against that strain and not against all strains of new coronavirus.
2. Do COVID-19 antibodies prevent reinfection?
Currently, there is no 100% proven evidence that a recovered person from COVID-19 cannot be reinfected again. The continuous rate of mutation, the number of new strains, and asymptomatic behaviour are making it difficult to conclude whether recovered patients are fully immune to COVID-19 or not.
As mentioned earlier, reinfection in a recovered person could be because he/ she is getting attacked by a different strain of the new coronavirus.
3. For how long will COVID-19 immunity last in a person?
Studies have shown that high levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 are present in most recovered patients. Experts say that the human body’s response to the COVID-19 virus is similar to other coronaviruses. It can be suggested that once someone is infected and recovers, the human body will ideally be able to provide protection against the infection for at least a few years and definitely provide protection in the short-term.
4. What do experts think about COVID-19 reinfection cases?
Experts are of the opinion that a recovered person, who is being tested positive for COVID-19 again, could be due to the dead remains of the virus found in the person. They are most likely not to be infectious or contagious again. The diagnostic tests might be picking non-infectious genetic material from the dead viruses again.
5. Are there any specific precautions for a person post COVID-19 recovery?
The precautionary measures continue to be the same for all - SMS (SOCIAL DISTANCING, MASK and SANITIZATION). They become even more important now that the country is gradually opening up and all kinds of activities are slowly starting. Recovered patients are advised to take ample rest, eat fresh and healthy, sleep well, stay fit, and positive. It is best they avoid going to work or stepping outside for at least a week after recovery.
Stay safe, stay healthy!
Disclaimer: The above information is compiled based on recent research reports and expert opinions. In case a recovered patient shows any signs and symptoms of COVID-19 again, it is best to consult a doctor immediately. This information is only suggestive and does not conclude anything in particular.