COVID-19 Immunity: How Long Am I Protected?

Modesto Morganelli
Gennaio 14, 2021

The FDA has also warned that false negative results can occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus's genome assessed by that test. That's when COVID-19 will likely join the league of endemic coronaviruses that cause the common cold, Lavine and her team predicted after comparing COVID-19 to other coronaviruses. But despite the fact that slow vaccine rollouts mean the USA won't achieve herd immunity for months to come, a study published Tuesday in Science also suggests COVID-19 is "here to stay", The New York Times reports. For those viruses, the term "herd immunity" is incomplete and possibly misleading, says postdoctoral fellow Jennie Lavine, PhD, first author of the Science paper.

The four common cold-causing coronaviruses have been circulating in humans for a long time and nearly everyone is infected at a young age - younger than measles before a vaccine was available.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA; Silver Spring, MD, USA) has alerted clinical laboratory staff and health care providers that it is monitoring the potential impact of viral mutations, including an emerging variant from the United Kingdom known as the B.1.1.7 variant, on authorized SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests. How long does immunity that prevents pathology last, and how long does immunity that prevents transmission last?

Here we discuss SARS-CoV-2 life cycle and a number of approaches aiming to suppress viral infection rates or propagation; increase virus antigen presentation in order to activate a robust and durable adaptive immune response from the host, and/or mitigate the ARDS-related "cytokine storm" and collateral tissue damage that triggers the severe life-threatening complications of COVID-19.

Although COVID-19 is considered to primarily be a respiratory disease, SARS-CoV-2 can affect many other organs in the body, including, in some patients, the central nervous system, where the infection is associated with a variety of symptoms ranging from headaches and loss of taste and smell to impaired consciousness, delirium, strokes, and cerebral hemorrhage.

The model predicts that the infection fatality ratio for SARS-CoV-2 may fall below that of seasonal influenza (0.1 percent), once an endemic steady-state is reached.

A safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 could save hundreds of thousands of lives in the first year or two of vaccine roll-out, but continued mass vaccination may be less critical once SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic, the researchers said.

Targeted vaccination in vulnerable subpopulations may still save lives, they said.

So far, the available data on SARS-CoV-2 infection in infants and young children suggest that severity is generally mild and mortality is low.

SARS-CoV-2 was also able to infect the brains of mice genetically engineered to produce human ACE2, causing dramatic alterations in the brain's blood vessels that could potentially disrupt the organ's oxygen supply.

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