By Mary Hearty

When individuals are infected with coronavirus, they develop antibodies a few weeks after infection. However, studies are underway to show how strong this immune response is and for how long these antibodies last.

These sentiments were shared by Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, infectious disease epidemiologist expert in the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization (WHO) during a virtual press conference.

Noting that a number of instances of reinfections have been reported in various countries, the epidemiologist explained: “This is because those countries have good lab systems and they are able to do full genome sequencing of the first infection and the subsequent infection. We are trying to learn more about each occurrence of reinfection and what the antibody response was in that individual at the time of the first infection and the second infection.”

“There is still so much we need to understand about occurrence of re-infection, how often it is happening and what it means for the individual patient, how severe the second infection is, and what it means in terms of the antibody response.”

Dr Kerkhove advices that it is important that everybody still adhere to the public health measures that are outlined in the areas where they live such as physical distancing, regular hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub, wear a mask where appropriate.

Globally, scientists are still working hard to better understand this virus and how it infects the human body.