SYRACUSE, N.Y. — For a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, like other diseases, their body will produce antibodies to fight off any future infection.
One of the many unanswered questions about the new disease doctors are trying to find is how long that protection will last for.
“We do not know for sure how protective they are against another case of coronavirus,” Dr. Helen Jacoby, an infectious disease doctor at St. Joseph’s Hospital, said. “We’re learning a lot over time and there’s a lot still to be learned.”
After some time, the antibody count will reduce and potentially re-expose a person to the disease, the doctor said. However, Dr. Jacoby said, if they even get infected again, it could be a milder case.
“They still do have some defenses against the infection. What we don’t know is how good that defense is,” she said. “There are still cells in your body that remember that infection so if you get exposed they’re able to much more rapidly generate a response.”
The antibodies produced in the blood fight off the same strain of a disease and roughly take two weeks to develop.
With COVID-19 being so new, doctors haven’t had the chance to study how long the immunity lasts for.
“The highest level is probably going to be right around the time you’re recovering from the infection or shortly thereafter,” she said.
She said doctors are working on a single vaccine for a single strain of COVID-19.
Her advice is simple hygiene practices like frequent hand washing, wear a mask and practice social distancing.
“Just be patient with the scientists and medical establishments while we work to learn more about this,” she said.