In some of the recent news coming out about the new COVID-19 virus, one of the biggest questions has been: What happens after you are positive for the virus? Are you immune from COVID-19, keeping you from getting it again? And if so, for how long?
Recent research has shown that people may be able to get the virus again even weeks after first testing positive.
Can You Be Immune From COVID-19?
People infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, produce antibodies which can clear the virus. However, these antibodies disappear rather quickly. In one study, 10 percent of patients who tested COVID positive no longer had detectable amounts of the antibody in their system. They would need this to combat the virus if they were exposed again. For others, it took two to three months after getting better before their antibodies were gone. Patients who do not have symptoms are more likely to lose their antibodies sooner, according to this study.
This is especially startling when comparing COVID-19 to similar infections caused by SARS and MERS. Their antibodies stay in the body for nearly a year.
As with all new research, there are still many unknowns. For example, just because the patients did not have the antibodies, there is no research that determines whether this lack of antibodies guarantees the person can become reinfected. The CDC also reports that just because a person has the antibodies, that doesn’t mean they can’t still get sick.
For this and many other reasons, the quest to create a vaccine for COVID-19 remains a top priority for healthcare professionals around the world.
In the meantime, stay safe, wear your mask, and practice social distancing.
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