Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?
Am I immune to the coronavirus if I already had it?
They have some immunity, but how much and how long are big unanswered questions.
There is evidence that re-infection is unlikely for at least three months, even in people with a mild case of COVID-19. That's how long New York researchers found stable levels of protective antibodies in a study of almost 20,000 patients from the Mount Sinai Health System.
Reinfection has been rare so far. Best-known example: Researchers in Hong Kong said a man had mild COVID-19 and was re-infected months later but showed no symptoms. His second infection was discovered through airport tests, and researchers said genetic testing found slightly different strains of the virus.
It is actually proof that the man's immune system worked the way it should. Very few diseases make people completely immune for life.
Antibodies are only part of the body's defenses and naturally decrease over time. And normally "memory" immune cells can identify germs they have encountered before so that they can fight them better the second time. This can help make repeated infections less severe.
Scientists are studying how the other parts of the immune system come into contact with the coronavirus.
It is not known whether people who have been re-infected but do not show symptoms can spread the virus to others. Because of this, health officials say that even people who have recovered from COVID-19 must wear a mask, keep their distance, and practice good hygiene.
The AP answers your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Send them to: FactCheck@AP.org. Read more here:
What do we know about superspreader events in the pandemic?
How long could I be contagious before a positive virus test?
How do I politely ask someone to wear a mask?
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