Since the past two months, the medical community has conducted further research on COVID-19 and have reported a number of new findings, including the possibility of having coronavirus re-infection after merely three months of recovering from the disease.
During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, it was generally assumed that a person will have immunity against SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes coronavirus infection, and will not get the infection for a second time at least any time soon.
However, a number of doctors and researchers then also reported that re-infection cases in people who had recovered from the virus previously within a few months or even weeks after being discharged from the hospital.
After such reports, a theory suggested that mutations in the coronavirus may have made it possible for re-infections to occur.
In addition, the mutations and the presence of multiple strains of the virus may make it deadlier than before and explain how the virus spread quickly around the world but the medical community shortly stated that these are just theories.
While mutations in the coronavirus have occurred, there is no solid evidence to show that they made them more contagious or deadly than before.
Secondly, this also means that there is no proof to show mutations can cause re-infections. Several researchers also pointed out that ‘re-infection’ cases may simply be people who never got fully treated and had a false negative result.
Regardless of the many ongoing debates regarding coronavirus re-infection, the vast majority still believes that it is indeed possible.
Recently, the fears of having the virus again have been fortified because of studies showing that the antibodies that are produced by the immune system to fight COVID-19 can disappear within months or even a couple of weeks.
These reports have not only raised the concern of contracting the infection again but have also raised bigger questions on the current strategies to fight the coronavirus infection. If immunity to the virus is not possible, how will the crisis ever come to an end?
However, several scientists have spoken on the rising concerns, saying that the immune system is much more complex than most people assume and lack of antibodies does not mean a person is not immune to the coronavirus.
While fighting a virus, there is a range of different cell actions and responses that make up the body’s defense and help it recover. In many of the immune systems, some of the most important cells can actually be very difficult to detect.
Antibodies are easier to detect rather than such cells. For example, two types of T cells play a fundamental role in fighting infections. However, they are hard to diagnose and also do not correlate to a person’s antibodies.
Research from the Strasbourg University Hospitals in France has highlighted there is T cell activity in people with coronavirus infection. Many of these patients also tested negative for having coronavirus antibodies.
Another study, whose findings appear in the journal Nature, has also shown that immune responses also involve various other cells and go even beyond the aforementioned T cells. Therefore, the risk of coronavirus re-infection is low.