How Long Does Covid Immunity Last? Will a Second Illness Be Worse?
If you are one of the millions of people who have been infected with Covid-19, you may be wondering how long your immunity to the coronavirus will last. In the early days of the pandemic, most people thought there was at least one benefit to being infected with the virus:you would be protected from future contact with it. However, as the latest wave moves towards the western part of the country, the virus shows no signs of remission and re-infection seems to have become common. Already, many people are reporting their second or even third infection with the newer variant of the virus.
Experts warn that by getting vaccinated or infected with the coronavirus, it does not mean you are completely protected from future infections. Instead, the coronavirus is evolving to become more like its close relatives, causing the common cold and infecting people repeatedly over the course of their lives.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University, says:- "Almost since the beginning of this pandemic, I've been thinking that Covid-19 will eventually become an inevitable infection that everyone will get multiple times because that's exactly how a new respiratory virus gets established in a population."
However, coronavirus doesn't yet fit a clear seasonal pattern like other common cold viruses do. It can also cause debilitating symptoms that last for months or years in some people and has claimed millions of lives. So what can you do to protect yourself not only from infection, but from re-infection? We asked the experts for answers to common questions
Dr Abu Ladad's research showed that after the advent of Omicron, previous infections only provided about 50% protection against reinfection. This coronavirus has undergone many mutations in its stinger protein and the new virus has become more infectious and better able to evade immunity. This means you can catch a version of Omicron after recovering from an old, non-Omicron variant. you can even get sick after overcoming a different version of the Omicron subtype.
Because the virus is now infecting more people, you have a higher chance of being exposed to it and re-infecting yourself. While it is unclear whether some people are simply more likely to be re-infected with Covid-19, the researchers have started to find some clues. Dr Abu Ladad said that older or immunocompromised people may produce few or poor quality antibodies, which makes them more likely to be re-infected. Early research suggests that a small group of people have a genetic defect that weakens a key immune molecule called type I interferon, putting them at higher risk of developing severe Covid symptoms. Further research may reveal that this difference also plays a role in reinfection.
For now, we need to be alert to all symptoms, including fever, sore throat, runny nose or changes in taste or smell. Even if you are asymptomatic, it is important to have routine antigen testing to confirm if you are positive again.