The human body’s immune system is the most amazing internal defence mechanism that protects the body against diseases and other potentially damaging foreign bodies. Ever since the pandemic has hit the world, the immunity of people affected with COVID-19 has been working overtime. Various case reports and studies have even shown that reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, albeit rare. This has given rise to several questions regarding the reinfection of coronavirus and about the immunity of people who have recovered from COVID-19.
Here are a few things that one should know about post recovery and catching the virus again:
How Long Does Immunity To COVID-19 Last?
Once an individual has recovered from the viral infection, he/she will gain antibodies. This will help the body’s immune system will remember the first attack and will prepare itself for any future attacks. This will ensure that the body can fight the infection better. With various past viruses, immunity can last years. Unfortunately, this is not the case with coronavirus. According to the National Institutes of Health, the immunity of above 95% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had strong memories of the virus up to eight months after being infected.
How Common is COVID-19 reinfection?
However, medical experts and scientists still don’t know how common reinfection is and can be in the future. This is because of the paucity of routine monitoring, testing, and surveillance. Moreover, it has been observed that symptoms are usually less noticeable in case of reinfection. The variable severity in the reinfection reports makes things quite uncertain. According to Theodora Hatziioannou, Ph.D., a virologist at Rockefeller University, most of the COVID-19 reinfections are very mild and people do not even realize they have been reinfected.
Should People Recovered from Covid-19 Also Get Vaccinated?
Yes, people who have recovered from COVID-19 should also get vaccinated since reinfection is possible. The vaccine mimics the infection and helps the body build immunity in a much safer way. While the body builds natural immunity while fighting the virus, the vaccine helps in building potentially stronger and longer-lasting immunity. People may experience some side effects after getting vaccinated which should not be confused with the symptoms of the virus. This is just an indication that your immune system is learning to identify and fight the virus. However, there is no evidence as to how long this protection will last. The durability of vaccine-induced immunity is closely studied and monitored in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.
Who is at a Higher Risk of Infection and Reinfection?
COVID-19 can infect anyone. However, the elderly, pregnant women and people suffering from pre-existing medical conditions or comorbidities are at an increased risk of developing severe illness with the infection. Also, people with low immunity increased susceptibility to chronic infections, and tapered antibody response, are more prone to COVID-19 reinfection. Moreover, the introduction of newer and more infectious mutations has only added to the probability of getting more and more people getting infected or reinfected.
Here is a list of all the medical conditions that can make an individual more vulnerable to the virus:
• Overweight and obesity
• Chronic lung diseases
• Chronic kidney disease
• HIV infection
• Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
• Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
• Heart conditions
• Down syndrome
• Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
• Dementia or other neurological conditions
• Liver disease
Here are some preventative measures that can protect you and the people around you:
• Wear a mask in public places
• Maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet)
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or sanitize with an alcohol-based hand rub
• Avoid spaces that are closed, crowded, or involve close contact.
• Keep rooms well ventilated
• Cough into a bent elbow or tissue
• Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces that are regularly touched
These precautions can help prevent infection and keep you safer for longer until vaccination gets us closer to achieving herd immunity.
Tips to Boost Immunity
• Stay Physically Active
With the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us are staying home which has led to a sedentary lifestyle. But in order to boost our immunity and fight against this virus, we need to be physically active. People of all ages and abilities need to be physically active. Taking short breaks, doing 3-4 minutes of light intensity movement like walking or stretching, can improve blood circulation and muscle activity. Moreover, regular physical activity is not only good for the body but the mind as well. Also, being physically active can stabilise blood pressure, help manage weight, even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and types of cancers (conditions that can increase susceptibility to the virus).
• Healthy Diet
Consuming a healthy diet can help attain a good nutritional status which can be beneficial in fighting against the virus. One should consume fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, unsaturated fats, and plenty of water. One can also eat red meat once or twice a week and poultry 2−3 times a week. Also, one should limit salt, sugar, and fat intake. Other than this, it is important to make sure that the food is properly cooked and served at a temperature of at least 75 degrees Celsius.
Whether an individual has been infected with the virus previously or not, taking these preventive measures will only be beneficial for you and your loved ones. We hope that this information will provide proper knowledge about things that one should know about COVID-19 post recovery and reinfection.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we, at Emoha, are undertaking #MissionEldersFirst to combat the situation and take care of our elders while at it. Visit our online resource centre that has plenty of useful information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic to keep yourself informed and aware.