All You Need to Know About Immunity and Coronavirus

Immunity is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “a situation in which you are protected against disease.”

The human system is made in such a way that there are cells that naturally fight against any ailment that comes in contact with it.

The human body fights these infectious diseases through the actions of the immune systems. When one recovers from a disease, an immunological memory of the disease that enables him fights off that same disease in the future is retained.

Since it became pandemic, there have been claims about people having immunity to the Coronavirus disease. But other school of thoughts say otherwise.

There are instances where people recover from the disease and contract the virus again. At a point, there were theories that those who got the disease again didn’t actually recover, and the test kits used for their subsequent checks might have been inefficient.

The question that has remained on the minds of many, which Fact-check Ghana probes is, whether indeed there is an immunity to Coronavirus. If someone is infected, do they become immune? If so, does it always work? If you become immune, how long will it last?

General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr. Justice Yankson, in a telephone interview with Fact-check Ghana said, “Nobody is immune [and] there is no literature to say one is immune to the virus.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Yankson said one “only gets some sort of immunity via getting the virus, and being vaccinated, based on the underlying  principles of vaccination. But anything apart from these, you are as open or non immune as any other person.”

He explained that, “even those who have tested positive with the disease, from what the literature is saying, for now, they only get up to three months immunity.  So in terms of immunity, nobody is born with it as far as this virus is concerned. That is why we are all looking for a vaccine to try as much as possible to get it from our environment.”

Meanwhile, as published by MedicineNet Health News, Medscape medical author, Pedro A. de Alarcon, MD., says people can be innately immune, as they are for example to the dog disease canine distemper. He explained as canine distemper causes great harm to dogs and puppies, and spreads easily to other dogs, but human beings cannot be infected with it.

Dr. Alarcon’s statement suggests humans are innately immune to some viruses but did not state whether Coronavirus is part or not.

Another way a person can become immune, according to Dr. Shiel, is by developing an immune response after he or she has already been infected. Your body produces specialized white blood cells that adapt to new infections in order to destroy them. This is called adaptive immunity, and it can protect you for a certain time against a given virus, but the protection lasts longer for some diseases than others.

“Vaccines provide another way a person can become immune to a disease. Some vaccines are effective for life, while others need to be “boosted” periodically with additional doses,” says Dr. Shiel as published by MedicineNet Health News.

Also, the duration of a vaccine’s effectiveness can vary due to the nature of the infection, but also due to how the vaccine is prepared. Live vaccines usually provide longer-lasting protection than some other vaccines, according to New Zealand’s Immunisation Advisory Centre.

Additionally, a study conducted by researchers of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the medical journal, Nature Medicine, tested 37 symptomatic and 37 asymptomatic patients. The findings revealed that in both sets of cases, 90 percent of patients saw a sharp drop in antibodies in 8 to 12 weeks after being infected. This reemphasizes the earlier facts that, one’s immunity can last maximum three months as Dr. Yankson indicated.

Akiko Iwasaki, MD, a viral immunologist at Yale University, told The New York Times that the focus is turning to a COVID-19 vaccine. “These reports highlight the need to develop strong vaccines, because immunity that develops naturally during infection is suboptimal and short-lived in most people.”

Fact-check Ghana can hence establish that, even though there is natural or innate immunity to some viruses, that of Coronavirus has not been established. Also, one develops an antibody after testing positive for a virus and recovering, but the case of Coronavirus lasts maximum three months as the current literature posits. The other means to get people immune, is through vaccine injection, which in the case of Coronavirus, has not been found yet according to the World Health Organisation.

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Supported by STAR Ghana Foundation with funding from UKAID and the European Union

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