A PERSON who has survived the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) gets to be asked this question: “Are you immune?” Followed by, “So, can you go out and not get infected?”
Most studies have shown that being a survivor means developing antibodies to the Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) explained it this way on its who.int website -- cellular immunity may clear the virus from the body, and if the response is strong enough, may prevent progression to severe illness or reinfection by the same virus. This process is often measured by the presence of antibodies in the blood.
It has been nearly a month since I got discharged from the hospital after I cleared my body of the coronavirus infection. I’ve been asked by sympathetic friends if I’m immune and if I can go to the mall, grocery or restaurant without fear of getting sick again.
My usual reply is, yes, I have the antibodies (that’s what my doctor said in my medical certificate) and, no, I’m not sure it’s safe for me to go out. Rather than add a long explanation about the unclear lifespan of antibodies, I blame my being unsure to my being “paranoid” about getting infected again, which is true. I don’t want to get sick again, no way, not after what I went through, and I cannot even say I’ve completely recovered.
It can be confusing because what we know is that a person who gets well from measles develops antibodies and will not get measles again. But Covid-19 is not that way.
Although the WHO said the antibodies can prevent reinfection, studies showed it is not clear how long the person may remain immune to the Covid-19 coronavirus after recovering from an infection. Three months? That’s a common understanding but recent news reports from those studying the virus say there is no definite timeframe for the life of the antibodies. It could be a few days, a week, or a month.
That is how unclear the Covid-19 still is to the experts. There’s no telling until when a Covid-19 survivor remains immune from the Sars-CoV-2.
What is clear is that there were survivors who got reinfected and their second infection brought about severe symptoms.
The point is there is no real immunity from this virus because what protection you have now may be gone tomorrow. You won’t know if you still have the antibodies unless you do the blood test every day or every time before you go out of your house.
Antibody transfusion using plasma of a survivor is being done to help patients recover. Sadly, I cannot donate my antibodies because of existing medical conditions.
We are hardly rid of the Covid-19, and the daily addition of new cases is proof, even though the rate of recovery continues to increase. Until a vaccine is developed, Covid-19 will remain a threat.
To be safe, we continue with the precautions. Stay at home, wear a mask and face shield, practice physical distancing and wash hands frequently.