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VERIFY: Here's how much immunity you have, if you've already had COVID-19

The latest study from NIH shows 95% of people who recovered from the virus had some level of immunity. However, that level varies from person to person.

WASHINGTON — More than 33 million people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated. There are also nearly 30 million people that had the coronavirus.

It appears most people who had coronavirus continue with some level of immunity for months.

Question:

How much natural immunity do you get from having COVID-19?

Answer:

Experts agree, most people who recovered from COVID-19 have some level of immunity. How long and how much depends from person to person.

Our Sources:

Dr. William Schaffner, infectious diseases expert from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Shmuel Shoham also an infectious diseases expert from Johns Hopkins University and the National Institutes of Health.

What We Found:

“COVID is a new virus in humans,” Dr. Schaffner said. “We're still learning about the immunity that it provides.”

When we think of immunity from viruses we tend to think of the classic case of measles.

“You're exposed to it, you get your measles, and you're protected for the rest of your life,” Dr. Schaffner said.

But COVID-19 is not like that. Here’s what we know so far:

“It looks as though you have immunity for at least nine months,” Dr. Schaffner said.

A January study from NIH reports, the immune systems of 95% of people who had COVID-19 still had lasting memories of the virus. Basically, that means they had at least 3 of the 5 critical components needed to have an immune response to the virus.

The immune systems of more than 95% of people who recovered from COVID-19 had durable memories of the virus up to eight months after infection. The results provide hope that people receiving SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will develop similar lasting immune memories after vaccination. After people recover from infection with a virus, the immune system retains a memory of it.

That is good news. Then there is the uncertainty.

“It seems like the level of immunity can vary by age and by gender,” Dr. Shoham said.

“That protection may not cover all of the variants, particularly that South African variant,” Dr. Schaffner said.

That is why most medical experts suggest, if you’ve had the virus you should still get a vaccine.

“So having somebody who's had the infection and then gotten the vaccine on top of that, that is super protective,” Dr. Shoham said.

Regardless of the study's findings, most medical experts agree that it is strongly preferred that people get the vaccine rather than the coronavirus. 

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