COVID-19 is not chickenpox: not when we are talking about 100% virulence or about lifelong immunity formation. While scientists are researching the interaction between human body and SARS-CoV-2 and possible ways their future coexistence, 5 cases of reinfection by the new coronavirus strain have been officially registered. We have been living with this virus for almost 1 year, but there still is not a definitive opinion about immunity stability after recovery.
Until recently, there was a hope to survive the disease in a light form and breathe in relief, but… the pandemic coronavirus reinfection has been detected in Hong Kong - a 33 years old man got COVID-19 again after 4,5 months since he recovered. Since then scientists have analysed every officially confirmed case of reinfect. The research results are being published by the influential medical journal The Lancet.
The last case examined by a scientific research group - a 25-years old Nevada (USA) citizen, who catched the coronavirus twice at a several weeks interval - in April and June 2020. In spite of expectations, the reinfection was symptomatically more severe than the first one: it was a different SARS-CoV-2 strain. The patient experienced hyperthermia, headache, cough, dizziness and indigestion. The situation evolved rapidly, and he needed urgent care along with artificial ventilation.
Before this case, patients from Belgium, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Ecuador got coronavirus twice as well - the latter (from Ecuador) had more severe reinfection than he had initially.
Past severe acute respiratory coronavirus syndrome does not provide protection against reinfection. The researchers are about to conceive an immunity response to COVID-19. By this moment, they have discovered 3 possible reasons of such a phenomenon:
Dr Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University (USA) is convinced: “With every new reinfection case the scientific community is approaching to understanding the body's defense response to the invasion of the SARS-CoV-2”. The information will help to improve vaccinations to develop specific immunity from COVID.
Pulmonologist at Gandhi Medical College Dr Lokendra Dave says people should not worry:
"Reinfection is rare but it is not clear that it does not happen. So people should be cautious about Covid norms. Reinfection of corona is detected on the basis of blood test in which antibodies are tested. If patient was infected earlier, his blood must have antibodies. On the basis of antibodies, it is detected that whether it is case of reinfection or fresh case".
Florian Krammer, an immunologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is sure: catch the coronavirus twice is rare:
“There are some people who just don’t develop good immune responses to certain pathogens. What is causing that? We’re not sure, but it’s rare, usually.”
Professor of immunology at Imperial college in London doesn’t provide the public with accurate forecasts about how long immunity to COVID will protect the body. She “supposes that those who have recovered from Covid-19 will probably have 90% protection “for a while”. But she also adds:
“I would bet my house on you being safe for possibly a year but not much longer,” he said. “The problem is that whenever an immunologist says anything about Covid immunity to a journalist, it’s right for about two weeks and then it’s completely wrong.”
Trust in your immunity, but remember to take care of yourself
Even if you have had the coronavirus, the risk of re-infection is not excluded. So, all the precautionary measures at the pharmacy and outside are still necessary and important:
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