“I had COVID. Now what?” – COVID-19 immunity after recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has been quite difficult for everyone. It’s natural for people to be extremely worried about contracting the virus since there’s been an extremely high number of infected individuals in the United States alone who did not make it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continuously working to learn more about the virus and provide information for public health action, all in a huge effort to reduce the spread of the viral disease.
There are some who’ve successfully recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But just when you thought you can just be thankful to be alive, a lot of questions still come up after COVID-19 recovery. While most viral infections give us long-lasting immunity after we have recovered from them, it might not be the case with COVID-19. Although cases of reinfection were rare, it shows that there’s still a possibility that one could get reinfected.
We must understand that COVID-19 is a fairly new virus and researchers are still studying its behavior and how the human body reacts to it.
How long does COVID-19 immunity last?
Remember when you recovered from measles and was told by the doctor (or your mom) that you won’t get it again because you’re now immune to it? What a relief, right? In the case of COVID-19, immunity is still quite questionable. It’s possible to acquire natural immunity but how much protection it provides and how long it’ll last are still unknown.
Some claim that antibodies produced by the immune system after recovering from COVID-19 may last up to 6 months. Some say 9 months. The ability of the antibodies in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 may vary in each person.
An immune response triggers the production of antibodies one to three weeks after COVID symptoms start appearing. Studies show that some patients have stronger antibody levels than others. So, some may be immune to the virus longer than others. But how long that’ll be is still an open question, according to the experts.
What is COVID-19 immunity testing?
To check if a recovered patient has immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, he’s given a COVID-19 antibody test. This serology test checks if the person’s immune system was able to develop antibodies to help fight against future infection.
Unlike a rapid COVID diagnostic test, a positive result with this antibody test means that the person who got tested and has high antibody levels probably has some protection. Among these antibodies, there’d be the specific neutralizing antibodies that bind to the virus’s spike proteins and prevent them from infecting other cells.
Commercially available tests detect overall antibody levels. Tests that measure only the neutralizing antibody are available only in research centers at this time. However, since these commercial tests can also detect responses to other Coronaviruses, false-positive results may occur, but very rarely.
Presence of antibodies is not a guarantee
If you tested positive in an antibody test, it’s still not a guarantee that you aren’t infected with the Coronavirus again. While natural immunity is possible, it might be short-lived for some people. Researchers are still trying to identify how many antibodies are needed to effectively prevent reinfection for longer.
While you may be immune to COVID-19 after recovering from it, it’s best to act like you’re not. This means you should still wear a facemask, avoid crowded places, maintain social distancing, and always wash your hands. COVID immunity remains to be a mystery.
How a COVID-19 vaccine could help
A lot of people are asking if they should still get vaccinated after they recover from COVID-19. The answer is YES. Since we still don’t know if your body’s immune response is enough to keep you from getting sick again, vaccination may help provide long-term protection.
If the majority of individuals within a community gets vaccinated, it could help provide indirect protection for those who are unable to develop immunity. That’s what we call herd immunity.
What to do after COVID recovery
After you recover from COVID-19, it’s important to take note of the following:
- Make sure that you complete your 5-day isolation period (for mild cases) and up to 10 days (for more severe cases).
- You don’t need to get a Coronavirus test again for up to three months after testing positive unless you develop symptoms again within the three-month period and no other causes can be identified.
- Wear your mask, social distance, and wash your hands regularly since there’s still a possibility that you could transmit the virus.
- Strengthen your immune system by developing healthier habits and taking Vitamin C.
For updated guidelines from the CDC’s Ending Isolation Guide.
Where to get a COVID-19 antibody test near me
If you want to get a reliable antibody test in NY, an urgent care is a reliable COVID-19 antibody testing location, whether you have insurance or not. Make sure that they have licensed health care providers to test you for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.