This is one of the most mind-boggling questions that doctors have had to deal with since the coronavirus pandemic hit. Unfortunately, with very little of the virus known, this and many other questions are the norms. We’ve heard stories of people testing positive for the virus again after recovery, which makes many people ask, is it possible to be reinfected with COVID-19, or do you become immune after recovery? There is not enough research on the virus to determine this for sure, but some bits of Science help answer this question.
The Science Behind it
Based on data from coronavirus strains and other viruses, it is known that your body makes antibodies 7-10 days after infection. Depending on the virus type, the antibodies can help keep off reinfection for months to years after recovery. However, antibodies provide immunity to only the specific strain of the virus you were infected with. Therefore, if the virus mutates even a bit, you can get infected with the new strain. COVID-19 being a new virus bothers researchers as they still have no idea how long the antibodies stay in the body after infection.
Does recovering from COVID-19 make you immune?
Long-term studies on humans must be conducted to find out if this is true. Based on what we know, antibodies made by the body after COVID-19 infection provide immunity for some time. Chinese scientists researched with the rhesus monkey and found that the antibodies from COVID recovery protected the monkeys from reinfection after another exposure.
The time and level of immunity might also depend on how the individual’s immune system responds. This means there’s still a lot to learn about immunity after COVID-19 recovery.
Are there possibilities of reinfection after recovering from COVID-19?
Reports have emerged of people who recovered from COVID-19 and later tested positive for the virus again.
Reports from China have cases of people with mild symptoms testing positive for the virus after recovery. A study on Chinese healthcare workers had findings where people tested positive after recovery. The study showed the individuals didn’t have symptoms and didn’t infect anyone around them.
Outside China, there are two cases where people who had fully recovered and tested negative for the virus began to have symptoms weeks later and were found to be positive. These scenarios require further research, but they are most likely no to show reinfection. The positive test might be detecting the leftover virus in some people but not causing infection
With the vaccine now out and these questions not having a definite answer, the best way to protect yourself is to get injected with the vaccine, continue sanitizing, wearing a mask, and social distancing. Research continues to look at the virus, but with the body’s ability to fight the virus, it is unlikely that a person who has recovered from the virus and made antibodies might become reinfected in such a short time. It is, however not impossible as the virus is mutating.