Can you catch Coronavirus twice? Microbiologists sheds light on immunity question:
Covid-19 is widespread worldwide, affecting thousands of people, but the good news is that most of them recovered from the disease. There are most of the people who came out clear of the infection; however, there are others who find difficulty in getting themselves treated. People have been wondering about a question that if COVID-19 once infects you, are you susceptible to suffer from the disease again and what happens once you encounter it the second time?
Do people develop immunity once they catch the virus and recover from it?
Mark Slifka, who is a microbiologist working at Oregon Health and Science University, he answers YES! And Slifka says that the people do get immune to the coronavirus but partially. Slifka further tells that during the short-term period, you need to be protected, or else the virus kills the patient. According to the knowledge-based on current biology, it is seen that the host has the capability of fighting against the pathogen where the body evokes the immune response to enhance recovery and fade the symptoms so that the virus becomes undetectable. If a person is fighting successfully against coronavirus, he develops immunity at least for a short duration. But for now, it’s still a mystery whether the protection continues for a longer-term or not.
How to clear covid-19?
When a person encounters SARS-COV-2 infection through breathing the droplets from a person being infected by the virus or by touching different surfaces that might carry the virus, then wiping the mouth can lead to the activation of the immune system, COVID-19 virus particles immediately move through your nasal passageway and reach the backside of the throat. The virus particles then get attached to the cells and lead to the non-functioning of these cells. Viruses are unable to reproduce themselves, so they try attacking the human cells and replicate themselves into multiple similar infections.
As soon as the virus invades the body, the white cells start the reproduction of Y-shaped molecules i.e., antibodies within the body. These antibodies then stick with the viruses and lead to the activation of immune cells for killing or neutralizing the viruses. Our bodies are capable of forming one million trillion, a unique type of antibodies. The production of these antibodies helps our immune system to get rid of COVID-19 infection and protect us from the disease in our later life. If the patient suffers from COVID-19 infections twice in their life, the body recognizes the pathogen through these antibodies and protects the body efficiently against the pathogen the second time.
Slifka further explains that we have learned from different studies that respiratory infections offer long-term immunity to the patients against any severe diseases in future life. He adds that if we recover from this critical condition i.e., COVID-19, we might get protected against severe diseases in later life. It means that if a person encounters a novel coronavirus infection the second time in a short duration, he or she is at a low risk to suffer from lethal infection. It is, however, based on our past studies, which were conducted on respiratory diseases. It is seen that the second time, you might feel mild symptoms like mild fever or cough but won’t undergo death. This specific theory came out after the preliminary research was done over macaque monkeys where they were exposed to the viral infection for the second time once they recovered it. It was seen that monkeys did not get reinfected after the disease. However, this study is valid for monkeys, but our human body responds differently. It is, therefore, essential to test antibodies of human beings after a few months or years after they undergo complete recovery from COVID-19.
For how long does the immunity last?
For now, we cannot confirm it. Still, with other common coronavirus or seasonal flu, it is seen that immunity lasts for around one year, with people being reinfected again and again over a period. Other diseases that are similar to SARS-COVID-19 can generate longer duration immunity for about 2-3 years. SARS-COV-2 viruses can easily undergo mutation at their genome level due to which it is difficult for the antibodies to identify it. According to the CDC, the immune response and immunity against COVID-19 still unknown. Patients who undergo MERS-COV are not likely to suffer from reinfection once they have recovered, but similar is not seen with COVID-19 patients until now. These observations by researchers might seem false as some patients in China and Japan came out positive even after complete recovery from COVID-19. Slifka, however, insists that these people might have come positive due to the reason that they might not have been able to kick the virus entirely before they got retested. Slifka further says that some people get rid of the infection immediately while others hang on it for a longer duration. People test negative for the virus initially, but they might undergo relapse after a few days or weeks.
Treatment options for future:
As more people are suffering from the disease, scientists and researchers have extra opportunities to understand the long-term immunity and identify effective treatment options. Scientists are now making use of passive immunization where antibodies from the fully recovered patients are transferred to infected patients, which may offer short-term immunity for such patients. However, this treatment option is not reliable, and we might need to develop a vaccine in the upcoming year to avoid any further outbreaks of the disease.