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Big Question on Immunity Remains 'an Unknown' - Page 2

Study out of Shanghai suggests not everyone develops antibodies, but more data is needed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2020 1:11 PM CDT

  • Ditto: At the Conversation, epidemiologist Tom Duszynski agrees that some kind of immunity is likely. "The question remains how long that immunity will last," he writes. "Other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS produce an immune response that will protect a person at least for a short time," he notes. "I would suspect the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, but the research simply hasn’t been done yet to say so definitively." Once a vaccine is distributed, people might need periodic booster shots.
  • Question marks: It's possible the virus can reactivate in some patients, though perhaps because it wasn't entirely eliminated from their system, says the WHO's Van Kerkhove. The possibility of the virus reactivating in recovered patients became clear with results out of South Korea, though it's possible false negatives skewed results. Also, some COVID-19 patients might be eliminating the main infection but developing a secondary bacterial issue, suggests Van Kerkhove.
  • Who is 'recovered'? In the US, the CDC standards are strict, writes Duszynski. People must be fever-free, naturally, for three consecutive days, and they must show improvement in symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath after at least seven days. Plus, they must test negative twice within 24 hours before they are deemed to be recovered.
  • Vaccine: Ideally, the questions about whether recovered patients are immune will become less important once a vaccine is available. Bloomberg reports that more than 70 are now in development worldwide, and three of them already are in human trials. That is incredibly fast by normal standards, though a widely available vaccine is still thought to be a year or so away.
(Dr. Anthony Fauci says it's plausible that recovered patients in the US might receive some kind of immunity document.)

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