As President Donald Trump said that he is immune to the novel coronavirus and isolated reports of reinfection appear from across the globe, people wonder what the truth about immunity to COVID-19 is.
Six known cases of COVID-19 were reported so far, with other unverified accounts from around the planet.
Though that is an unnoticeable fraction of the millions of individuals that have been infected, is that a reason to be concerned?
First of all, let’s clarify what does the term “immunity” means.
When we contract a pathogen, the immune system rapidly responds to ward off the threat and keep damage to the minimum. The first responders in the whole mechanism are the innate cells. They are not usually enough to end a threat, which is where the lymphocytes kick in.
Lymphocytes are available in two versions: B lymphocytes, which produce antibodies, and T lymphocytes, which feature cells that directly fight germy invaders.
As antibodies are readily available in the blood, they are usually a performant indicator of an excellent adaptive immune response.
However, antibodies levels in our blood decrease over time, but that doesn’t necessarily compromise protection. We keep some lymphocytes that know how to fight off the threat – the memory cells. Memory cells have an extended lifespan, meaning that they are always available to step into action when the body needs them to.
That is immunity – the body’s ability to ward off an intruder it’s dealt with before.
How Concerned Should We Be?
Reinfection can happen, but that usually results in mild or asymptomatic cases, as the immune response is ready to fight against the worst effects.
That is just why most reinfection cases present little to no symptoms, so you shouldn’t be too concerned, but it would be best if you stayed safe and avoided reinfection altogether.