A: No. Evidence on the longevity and strength of the immune system response to SARS-CoV-2 remains inconclusive.
Previous infection does not give you an “immunity passport”. All individuals should continue to follow SMART precautions, particularly during the holiday season.
Here is what we know to date.
Antibody testing alone is an insufficient measure of immunity. Antibody testing is available in many settings of variable quality. The presence of antibodies in the blood should not be considered immunity. While some individuals have detectable levels of antibodies months after infection, others do not. The amount and length of time antibodies are present give only a partial picture of the immune response.
Immune response involves antibodies, B cells, and T cells. We need to understand how all three respond to SARS-CoV-2 infection over periods of months to years to determine the strength and longevity of an immune response following natural infection. New results from a not yet peer-reviewed study of individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 followed over months suggests a robust immune response, though was done among a small sample of individuals with variation in the immune responses detected across individuals. This study is very welcome good news that immunity would protect you from severe disease in the future. These results *DO NOT* change safety practices among individuals who have been infected and recovered as it remains unclear if the immune response protects from reinfection and spread to others.
SARS-CoV-2 infection results in variable immune response from person to person. For this reason, not every person infected will have comparable immunity to potentially protect them if they are re-exposed to the virus. Immunity resulting from vaccination is studied closely to determine how much of the population is likely to develop an adequate immune response to prevent illness AND how long that response lasts. It’s insufficient at this time to depend on previous infection as protection from reinfection and further spread of the virus. Promising ne evidence (phew!) suggests long lasting immune response after Covid-19 infection AND effective vaccines are in the pipeline. For now, everyone should be following the same guidelines – mask up, restrict networks, and prepare for brighter days on the horizon.