The COVID-19 pandemic has been quite difficult for everyone. It is natural for people to be extremely worried about contracting the virus since there has been an extremely high number of infected individuals in the United States alone who did not make it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuously working to learn more about the virus and provide information for public health action, in a huge effort to reduce the spread of the viral disease.
However, there are some who have successfully recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And just when you thought you can just be thankful to be alive, a lot of questions still come up after COVID-19 recovery. While most viral infections give us long-lasting immunity after we have recovered from them, it might not be the case with COVID-19. Although cases of reinfection were rare, it shows that there is still a possibility that one could get reinfected.
We must understand that Coronavirus is a fairly new virus and researchers are still studying its behavior and how the human body reacts to it.
How Long Does COVID-19 Immunity Last?
Remember when you recovered from measles and was told by the doctor (or your mom) that you won’t get it again because you are now immune to it? What a relief, right? In the case of COVID-19, immunity is still quite questionable. It is possible that you acquire natural immunity but how much protection it provides and how long it will last are still unknown.
Some claim that antibodies produced by the immune system after recovering from COVID-19 may last up to 6 months and some say it’s 9 months. The ability of the antibodies in neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 may vary in each person.
An immune response triggers the production of antibodies about 1 to 3 weeks after COVID symptoms started appearing. Studies show that some patients have stronger antibody levels than others. So, some may be immune to the virus longer than others. But how long it will be is still an open question, according to the experts.
What is COVID-19 Immunity Testing?
To check if a recovered patient has immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, he is given a COVID-19 antibody test. This serology test checks if the person’s immune system was able to develop antibodies to help fight against future infection.
Unlike a rapid COVID diagnostic test, a positive result with this antibody test means that the person who got tested and has high antibody levels probably has some protection. Among these antibodies, there would be the specific neutralizing antibodies that bind to the virus’s spike proteins and prevent them from infecting other cells.
Commercially available tests detect overall antibody levels. Tests that measure only the neutralizing antibody are available only in research centers at this time. However, since these commercial tests can also detect responses to other Coronaviruses, false-positive results may occur but very rarely
Presence of Antibodies is Not a Guarantee
If you tested positive in an antibody test, it is still not a guarantee that you may not be infected with the Coronavirus again. While natural immunity is possible, it might be short-lived for some people. Researchers are still trying to identify how many antibodies are needed to effectively prevent reinfection for longer.
While you may be immune to COVID-19 after recovering from it, it is best to act like you are not. This means you should still wear a facemask, avoid crowded places, maintain social distancing, and always wash your hands. COVID immunity remains to be a mystery.
How a COVID-19 Vaccine Could Help
A lot of people ask if they should still get vaccinated after they recover from COVID-19. The answer is YES. Since we still do not know if your body’s immune response is enough to keep you from getting sick again, vaccination may help provide long-term protection.
If the majority of individuals within a community gets vaccinated, it could help provide indirect protection for those who are unable to develop immunity. That is what we call Herd Immunity.
What to Do After COVID Recovery
After you recover from COVID-19, it is important to take note of the following:
- Make sure that you complete your 10-day isolation period (for mild cases) and up to 20 days (for more severe cases). The active virus is said to be no longer contagious 10 days after testing positive.
- You can only go back to work or school if you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and other symptoms, like cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue, are improving.
- You do not need to get a Coronavirus test again for up to 3 months after testing positive unless you develop symptoms again within the 3-month period and no other causes can be identified.
- Wear your mask, social distance, and wash your hands regularly since there is still a possibility that you could transmit the virus.
- Strengthen your immune system by developing healthier habits and taking Vitamin C.
Where to Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test Near Me
If you want to get a reliable antibody test in NY, Statcare offers reliable COVID-19 antibody testing in various locations in New York City, whether you have insurance or not. We have licensed health care providers to test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and we use the testing kit called COVID-SeroKlir by Kantaro Bioscience, which was issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA sometime in November of last year. Call us to schedule an appointment for an antibody test.