As the number of Floridians infected with COVID-19 continues to rise, more people are navigating the uncharted territory of life as COVID survivors. Many of those who recover breathe a sigh of relief thinking they’ll be protected from getting the virus again, but is that true?
Mobeen Rathore, MD, chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease and Immunology for Wolfson Children’s Hospital, warns it’s still unclear whether someone who had COVID-19 can be re-infected.
“We have only known about this virus for less than nine months, so we are still learning,” Dr. Rathore said. “We still don’t know how good the immune response is to provide protection against future infection, or how long that immune response lasts. Only time will tell.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients infected with other types of coronaviruses are unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recover, but it is unclear whether COVID-19 will have similar immune protection. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses which can cause illness ranging from mild, like the common cold, to severe, like SARS, MERS and COVID-19.
Dr. Rathore said at this point, there are data suggesting some people may get infected a second time, but it is probably rare. Still, further research is needed for definitive answers.
With so much still unknown, Dr. Rathore urges people who have recovered from COVID-19 to take the same precautions as everyone else to prevent contracting or spreading the virus: wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.
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