Hyderabad: In the last fortnight, not only the cases of Covid-19 in Telangana have been on the rise but even the number of persons who are getting discharged from hospitals has increased.
While the recoveries have increased, but due to the novelty of the Covid-19 disease, it has become difficult for epidemiologists to give a firm response to tough questions like can the discharged patients get re-infected again?
Can the recovered patients re-infect others?
Between June 1 and June 25, as many as 3,127 persons, who had earlier tested positive, have recovered and discharged from hospitals in the State. This, however, does not mean that the discharged patients now have strong ‘immunity’ to protect them from future infections or they would stop infecting others.
Senior doctors acknowledge that despite the rise in recoveries, the fact also remains that there is no guarantee that the immunity levels of the recovered patients will last them long enough to outrun this ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are making all out efforts to ensure that the discharged patients from Gandhi Hospital are not infecting others after their discharge. During the discharge, we are asking them to take physical distancing measures for the next 28 days and if possible avoid venturing out,” Gandhi Hospital Superintendent Dr M Raja Rao said.
In diseases like swine flu or SARS, individuals after recovering from the ailment develop antibodies that provide them immunity from reinfection for at least a year and even more in some cases.
Does a similar pattern occur in Covid-19 positive patients? Based on peer reviewed studies, pre-prints and observations made by epidemiologists, it appears that the immunity of persons, who have recently recovered from Covid-19 infection, is short lived.
As a result, there is always a risk of such recovered persons getting re-infected or even become a source of infection. Such short-lived immunity also indicates that herd immunity can’t be achieved by getting a large population infected with SARS-CoV-2.
On June 16, a pre-print study published in medRxiV, screened antibodies in almost 1500 antibodies of Covid-19 patients in Wuhan, China. The study concluded that after SARS-CoV-2 infection, people are unlikely to produce long-lasting protective antibodies against the virus.
The Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, United States, Dr Anthony Fauci, while interacting with experts on the issue of immunity after Covid-19 infection, said that individuals do not have a uniformly robust antibody response to the coronavirus.
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