Can You Get COVID Twice?

There seems to be a huge list of misinformation out there regarding COVID-19, antibodies, and immunity. So I thought I’d take some time this morning to tell you there is no evidence, there is no proof, and you are safer to treat this like the doctors recommend.

Let’s start with what an antibody is. Your body develops antibodies as a reaction to an invasion – it could be any form of infection, from bacteria and viruses to foods you have intolerances to. Antibodies are mostly unique to the specific invasion they’re trying to fight off. They latch onto the unwanted items and help the body break down and eradicate the infection.

In a lot of ways, antibodies are the crux of the modern vaccine. For example, the flu shot you get each year uses an inert version of the most anticipated strains of influenza. I say “most anticipated” because there are about 144 strains of the flu and the medical industry uses complex predictive modeling to determine which is most likely to lead an outbreak each year.

By injecting you with an inactive form of the flu bug scientists expect, they can get your body to proactively produce antibodies and have them ready to fight off any infection from an active form of the virus that year. 

Unfortunately, not all antibodies are created equal. Some stick around longer than others. That’s why we go back for a new flu shot every year, but can potentially go an entire lifetime getting chicken pox only once. 

So then the questions we’re asking today are two important ones: how long do our antibodies for COVID-19 stick around in our bodies after we fight it off, and how effective are they at fighting off COVID-19 should we re-contract it.

At first glance, those would be easy questions to answer. But, anecdotes from people who say they got it twice or who say they had it once and should have gotten it a second time but never did are a far cry from good, statistical certainty. 

For that, we would need a highly accurate test, a large sample size of people who contracted the virus twice AND tested positive for it twice, or an even larger sample of people who tested positive for the virus once and have confirmed, long-duration contact with others who were infected through contract tracing.

So, no. Just because you heard a story about someone being immune a second time doesn’t mean it’s a real thing. Wear a mask.

Thanks for listening this morning. Please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. It’s free to you and means everything to me. I’m Ben Garves, and we’ll chat tomorrow.


More reading on catching the bug twice: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/07/22/can-you-get-coronavirus-twice/

By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, Facebook, and Bloomberg. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.

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