What’s going on?
The Lancet medical journal published a study that found that reinfection can happen for individuals who naturally became infected with the coronavirus.
- And, the study found, the majority who recover from natural infection of the coronavirus stay protected for six months, The New York Times reports.
However, the researchers used COVID-19 test results for their research, “so it’s possible that only people who were mildly ill the first time became infected again and that the second infections were largely symptom-free,” according to The New York Times.
- In fact, reinfection would likely lead to asymptomatic or mild infections because the immune system can limit the virus’s impact once someone is reinfected, The New York Times reports.
And, as The New York Times reports, the study said immunity to natural infection is sort of ... uncertain. There’s no telling what it might mean. So getting vaccinated is the best way to stay safe from COVID-19.
- “You can certainly not rely on a past infection as protecting you from being ill again, and possibly quite ill if you are in the elderly segment,” Steen Ethelberg, an epidemiologist at Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, told The New York Times.
How long does immunity last?
The latest study joins a body of other research about how long immunity lasts for people who already were infected with COVID-19. For example, in January 2021, there were two separate studies on the matter. One study suggested immunity can remain strong for eight months, which I wrote about for the Deseret News. Another study suggested COVID-19 survivors might only have 90 days of immunity. Back in November 2020, a study hinted that protection could last for six months.
So overall, we really don’t know how long immunity to natural infection lasts. As for the vaccine, we still don’t know much either. Moderna suggested immunity with the vaccine might last one year, but that’s still in question, too. It’s unclear when the answers will come for immunity.