As the number of coronavirus cases increases, people across the country are asking if it is possible to contract the coronavirus again. Can people who have recovered from the coronavirus believe that they are completely free and cannot contract the virus again?
Public health officials and Scientists are working as quickly as possible to find answers to key questions like whether the survivors can be infected with the coronavirus or not.
Dr. Srivastava, Director of Infectious Diseases at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, said that people cannot say gauging slightly the symptoms that a person being reinfected. He reiterated that without proper procedures, it is impossible to detect the reinfection of the coronavirus. He also added that the existence of the reinfection itself has not yet been fully established.
There is a set of definite procedures to determine whether a person is infected again or not. This process is called whole-genome sequencing. In this process, the virus RNA sequencing is performed in the laboratory. After laboratory testing, people can determine the sequencing of the coronavirus for the first time and can be confirmed the second time. Once it is completed and confirmed, some people may be able to say that someone has been infected with the coronavirus.
When Dr. Srivastava, who is also a member of the Covid-19 special group, asked if there is any simpler way to diagnose the symptoms of secondary infection of the COVID-19 disease, said that without this lab testing method, the severity of the second infection cannot be assessed.
These diagnoses/tests are only performed in reference laboratories such as the National Institute of Virology. This does not happen in ordinary laboratories. Therefore, one cannot be said verbally that a person has a second COVID-19 infection. There is a procedure of establishing it,” he said.
Considering the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, medical experts say that even if lockdown restrictions are slowly being relaxed, one needs to be alert and caution is required.
If this is the second wave of Coronavirus infection we have been seen, then one needs to do exactly what we did in the first wave. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and maintain social distancing whenever stepping out. In addition to this, the advantages that we have had during the lockdown period will be lost, Dr. Srivastava added.
CORONAVIRUS REINFECTION EXISTS
For some time, there have been many different opinions about the reinfection of the coronavirus illness. Dr. Shruti Tandon, Critical Care Medical Consultant at Jaslok Hospital, said: There are many speculations about the second infection, but a recent report in Korea in which the virus genome was sequenced found that it was actually true reinfection with the mutation. The changes in the amino acid sequence undoubtedly prove the occurrence of reinfection.
It is reported that some samples from Mumbai have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, while the Covid-19 special group in Mumbai is waiting for the results. The increase in the number of COVID-19 cases has obviously created a fear factor among people, that is, the second wave will be more threatening than the first wave.
But Dr. Tandon said optimistically: The good news here is that even if we talk about reinfection, the changes in the virus are very little, and it is known that the virus will mutate. And there will be some inherent immunity, and also the second stage of reinfection as it seems from the current indication that this will not be a serious illness, or you can say that at best it is a mild infection at best.
But, that being said, the question is, under what circumstances can people contract the coronavirus infection again? Specialists say that a person can be infected with the coronavirus infection again under the same circumstances, i.e, if people do not follow the social distancing, not wearing masks and sanitizing hands.
THE ROLE OF ANTI-BODIES
What is the role of antibodies in this situation?
To this, Dr. Tandon said: Individuals have two types of immunity- T cell-mediated and humoral immunity. T cell-mediated immunity is through the T-cells population attacking viruses or similar forms of viruses. Humoral immunity is through the production of antibodies.
So far, we have been studying humoral immunity, but in recent months, there’s been a lot of interest in T cell-mediated immunity. Therefore, we really can’t say whether antibodies are protective or not. That can be one of the main reasons why the use of plasma restorative treatment has failed in experiments because these antibodies do not seem to be protective, but in fact, have only been neutralizing.
WILL SECOND WAVE OF CORONAVIRUS BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN THE FIRST?
Experts say the second wave of the COVID-19 disease will not be as bad as the first wave.
This will certainly not worsen than the first wave, because, in the first wave itself, a large part of the population would have been infected and also immune. Therefore, even if they are infected again, it will not be a serious infection but a mild disease.
Dr. Tandon said that in terms of number and severity, the second wave will not be worse than the first wave. As the number of cases increases, a certain amount of herd immunity will occur, which will protect the number from going up.
In order to better understand SARS-CoV-2 immunity, researchers will need to study the disease progression of many people over time and collect multiple samples from the same persons. There is still a lot of debate about how long it will take!