Coronavirus is a novel virus that we all, scientists, medical professionals and laymen alike, are trying to figure out. The question of immunity is one of the top questions researchers are searching for answers to. Can a person who has recovered from a previous Covid-19 infection, get infected again? Adequate knowledge of what entails immunity to covid-19 and how long a person has it, if any, is critical to understanding and ultimately defeating the virus.
Be sure to find a testing centre for coronavirus test near me with thermal screening facility to confirm your covid-19 status.
How do you become immune to coronavirus?
The immune system of the body is responsible for fighting infections and diseases that enter the body. It functions in two ways.
The Innate Immune Response is the first part. It is always eager to jump into action and attack any intruder detected in your system. It does this by causing inflammation and then releasing white blood cells to get rid of the infected cells.
Unfortunately, this system does not provide immunity to coronavirus.
The other part of the immune system is the Adaptive Immune Response. This response is made up of cells that produce specific antibodies that are capable of attaching themselves to the virus in an attempt to stop it. It also involves cellular cells, that is; T cells that attack only the infected cells.
This whole process takes quite a while. Research suggests that it takes the body an average of 10 days to produce specific antibodies that target the coronavirus. Most often, patients with the strongest immune response to the virus have the most severe cases.
Powerful adaptive immune response to the virus usually leaves an enduring impression of the virus that serves as a form of protection against future infection. However, for individuals who only experienced mild symptoms, it is still unclear if they develop enough adaptive immune response. This is why it is most advisable to carry out a test and confirm your covid-19 status.
The role of T-cells in combating the virus is still being observed, but recent studies show that despite testing negative for covid-19 antibodies, it is possible to have some form of immunity still. T-cells that can both identify and destroy cells infected with the virus was also discovered in people who tested positive for antibodies.
How long can a person be immune?
The memory of the immune system is similar to the human memory; some things are remembered for life, while others are easily forgotten. For instance, the impression left by measles is very memorable that you would most likely catch it once in your lifetime. Unfortunately, coronavirus is still relatively new, and so it’s hard to determine just how long its immunity would last.
Although, there are 6 other human coronaviruses that have previously existed that we can draw an inference from. Four of those six, exhibit symptoms similar to the common cold and their immunity does not last long. It is even possible to be infected twice within the same year.
Recent research suggests that certain antibodies responsible for fighting against coronavirus tend to decline after a period of three months. But this decline does not seem to affect the cells that produce these antibodies, that is B-cells. For instance, B-cells for the 1918 pandemic has been discovered in people 90 years after it occurred. If the B-cells for coronavirus work the same way, then it is possible that a second wave of the virus will be milder.
Will the common cold give me immunity against coronavirus?
Possibly. It is still uncertain if infections with similar symptoms can have the same immunity. Lab tests have shown that in some cases, the T-cells developed against SARS or common cold viruses also attack the novel coronavirus.
However, the frequency and just how much defence it provides is still unclear.
Have people caught it twice?
During the early days of the outbreak, there were reports of people infected multiple times within a short period. But this was explained as a case of incorrect testing. The patients were erroneously told that they had recovered from the virus when they had not. Accuracy of the result is very important, and this is why we advise you to visit a private lab for coronavirus test near me.
Recently, Hong Kong scientists reported a situation of re-infection. The patient was a young, healthy man who had recovered from covid-19 just about four months before the re-infection. In this case, it was certain that the man got infected twice because genome sequencing of the virus showed that the virus strains were not the same.
Medical experts stated that a re-infection, though uncommon, was not particularly surprising. Unfortunately, the evidence available is insufficient enough to understand why this occurred.
No human has been re-infected intentionally to check for immunity against the virus, only monkeys have. They were re-infected three weeks after the first infection. Although this experiment was quite limited, it showed that the monkeys did not exhibit any symptoms.
If I have antibodies, does that mean I am immune?
Having antibodies is not an assurance of immunity. When a person passes the antibody test, he/she is safe to get integrated back into the society and resume work. This is very beneficial for essential workers and those at the front lines of the pandemic.
However, not all antibodies are of the same level. The antibodies that get attached to the virus and prevent it from infecting other cells are known as neutralising antibodies. Studies have pointed out that not everyone has the same level of these neutralising antibodies.
Another problem is that it is quite possible to be a host for the virus and infect others while also being protected from it by your immune system. Getting a private COVID test still remains the surest way of knowing whether or not you are infected.
Why is immunity important?
It goes without saying that how often you get infected with covid-19 is important for your personal health and safety. Also, an adequate understanding of how people develop immunity and for how long, will be useful in easing the lockdown as it would be easy to identify who can and who cannot get infected.
Immunity also has a say in how fatal the infection is. If people can withstand it, then the virus can be said to have a low fatal rate. More importantly, if long-term immunity proves to be difficult, then the process of developing a vaccine will not be easy. It can also impact how often the vaccine is to be used.
This and many more makes immunity important and adds to the many questions we are still trying to find answers to.
At STD Check London, we offer coronavirus testing and information on other issues as regarding the pandemic. Do not hesitate to contact us today for more information.