Governments are beginning to ease the lockdown norms and some are considering “immunity passports”, wherein restrictions in totality will be lifted for those who have previously tested positive.
However, does the human body become immune to coronavirus if it has already been infected?
Some infections, such as smallpox and measles, do not recur once a person has had them. Several others, such as tetanus or influenza can recur even after the first infection.
— Capt.N.KUMAR (@captkumarn) April 2, 2020
Research towards these questions suggests that a proportion of people who have been previously infected, will be immune to another infection, at least for a while. Nonetheless, there is no certainty to this. Here’s what science knows about the human body in connection to the coronavirus.
Antibodies: A quick overview
Upon encountering a threat of infection, our body attempts to form a quick response to this threat. So, within a matter of hours our innate immune system starts its job. The immune system of the human body is quick to act but is unable to target a specific threat.
Threadlet: Interviewed incredibly reassuring doctor. He said if you've had coronavirus chances are good you won't have recurrence for 6-12 mos. Hopefully by then there'll be a corona shot. He also said the basics, eating fresh fruits and veg helps with your overall immune system.
— Rachel Weingarten @ 🏠 (@rachelcw) April 22, 2020
The immune system’s attack helps the body in producing a more targeted response which is slower by distracting the infection. The body accomplishes this with the adaptive immune system.
Antibodies that fight the infection are produced by the adaptive immune system. In order to determine who has been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that results in COVID-19, the blood must be checked for measure of antibodies.
What results in people being infected more than once?
A study from China on the matter found that those who tested positive again did not get any sicker. This suggests that these patients were shedding the virus and were at the end of the illness, and did not get “infected” again.
The tests being used for detection of coronavirus cannot determine if the virus is dead or alive. This explains why people in close contact with these patients did not test positive.
Over time, it may be possible to resolve the issue of immunity to coronavirus. But as of now, medical professionals around the world are putting the pieces together.