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COVID-19 Immunity: How Long Does It Last and What Is ‘Natural’ Protection?



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COVID-19 itself causes some degree of immunity in those who have had it, but vaccines have proven to be a safer way to achieve protection against the disease.

James Martin / CNET

Coronavirus has now infected at least 100 million people worldwide, resulting in more than 2 million deaths. However, those who recover develop some level of immunity and protect them from COVID-19, according to doctors studying COVID-19. Vaccines, including those that protect against coronavirus, also boost immunity and protect against disease, but in a different, safer way than the disease itself. And as the nationwide rollout of the coronavirus vaccine continues to gain momentum, questions about COVID-19 immunity have of course surfaced. How protected are you against variants? How long does it take? Should those who have recovered from the coronavirus still get the vaccine?

Much remains unknown about COVID-19, including whether the immunity to the disease itself is stronger or weaker than that resulting from either of the two vaccines currently being provided. What is known is that reinfection with COVID-19although rare, it is not unheard of. Experts recommend that everyone get the coronavirus vaccine, whether they have had COVID-19 or not.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people who have had COVID-19 can skip the vaccine for now while supplies are limited if they want to rent it out. others come first in line. Ultimately, though, the CDC says they should get the vaccine just like everyone else. (There are factors that lead experts to suggest to some people maybe not good candidates for receiving the vaccine, but for reasons other than immunity.)

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A coronavirus vaccination card can remind you when to come back for your second dose.

United States Department of Defense

Here we’ll look at what we know about coronavirus immunity in relation to both the disease itself and the available vaccines to protect against it. Keep in mind, mutations of the virus may affect some or all of the information below. In addition, there isn’t enough conclusive evidence at this point to know what each coronavirus vaccine is like refers to the new variants currently emerging. This story is not intended to be medical advice. If you are looking for a site to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, here’s what you need to know.

What exactly is coronavirus immunity and how do you get it?

The immune system is your body’s defense against germs that can make you sick, including bacteria, fungi, toxins and viruses. It consists of several organs that produce cells and proteins designed to protect against disease. Over the course of your life, the immune system detects, remembers and defends invading germs – this resistance is ‘immunity’. Doctors are particularly interested in antibodies and T cells when it comes to COVID-19, as both have been shown to help protect against infection.

Immunity that you build up is called acquired immunity, and there are essentially three ways to get it: through natural exposure to infection or disease, receive the antibodies from someone else have a form of treatment or receiving a vaccine.

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Because there is still a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC says those who have recovered from the disease can wait to get it, but not forever.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Vaccine vs. ‘Natural’ Immunity: Which One Lasts Longer?

Immunity to some diseases can last a lifetime, such as measles and mumps. Other illnesses cause long-lasting but not ironclad immunity, such as chicken pox, which can reappear as shingles later in life. And in still other illnesses such as influenza, immunity is limited and short-lived, in part because the viruses that cause influenza mutate so quickly.

A January 2021 study found a level of antibodies to the coronavirus that was consistent with immunity, as long as the patients were infected eight months after they were infected. A similar but separate study from November concluded that protection lasts for at least five to seven months after infection.

Vaccines against COVID-19 have not been around long enough to provide definitive answers, but most experts expect at least a year of immunity after inoculation. That could mean that annual ‘booster’ shots are needed to completely eradicate the virus. The CEO of one of the companies behind a COVID-19 vaccine – Moderna’s Stephane Bancel – has said the world will have to live with the coronavirus “forever”.

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Expect most people to continue to limit going out in public until the population reaches a certain level of immunity.

James Martin / CNET

Vaccine vs. ‘Natural’ Immunity: Which One Is Stronger?

Just because you’ve developed some level of immunity to a particular disease doesn’t mean there’s a 0% chance you’ll contract it if you’re exposed. That’s what researchers are referring to when they say, say, it’s Moderna vaccine 94.5% effective. That means that for every 1,000 people who receive the vaccine, 945 will not contract the disease if exposed – but 55 still can. The other vaccine currently authorized in the US, Pfizer, is 95% effective, meaning 95 out of 100 people who get it will be protected.

There is a dangerous rumor that COVID-19 – the disease itself – is 99% effective at preventing reinfection. While it’s unclear how accurate that number actually is, one fact remains: COVID-19 killed more than 2% of those infected by it. Vaccines, on the other hand, don’t just prevent infections, they also save lives.

Vaccine vs. ‘Natural’ Immunity: Which Is Safer?

In addition to the risk of death, doctors have identified a slew of long-term effects that patients who were recovering from COVID-19 endured. These so-called “long-distance travelers” have experienced coughing, sometimes severe fatigue, body aches, joint pain, shortness of breath and a variety of neurological disorders. For some, symptoms usually continue for weeks and even months after the initial infection subsides.

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Some COVID-19 symptoms can last for weeks and even months in a small percentage of people who get the disease.

Sarah Tew / CNET

So far, there have been zero deaths directly related to any of them corona vaccines is currently being distributed worldwide. Despite a small number of recipients experiencing some type of allergic reaction, the overall negative reactions of any kind are quite minimal. The most common side effects are pain or swelling around the injection site and fever, chills, tiredness, or headache.

Now that the vaccines have arrived, there may be some sort of return to normal on the horizon, but until then everyone will have to keep wearing masks and distancing yourself socially. Your employer could also do this to speed up a return to the office you are required by law to receive the vaccine. Whatever you do, pay attention to one of several vaccine-related scams.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care practitioner if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.


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