Nearly 400,000 people worldwide are reported to have recovered from Covid-19 infection. However, whether the virus leaves sequelae or how long they remain immune remains unclear.
More than 373,000 cases have recovered from Covid-19 infection worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University database.
“If all goes well, your immune system will completely eliminate all viruses in the body,” said Tom Duszynski, Dean of Epidemiology at Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis, writing on The Conversation .
“A person is considered to recover when they are infected with the virus and recover without any long-term health effects.”
However, there are still many uncertainties. It is unclear how many people recover, how the disease will affect them in the long run or how long they will be immune.
Continued coughing, lasting fatigue
Although more than 372,000 coronavirus infections have recovered worldwide, the actual number is probably even higher.
Although Johns Hopkins University tracks the number of cases and deaths reported by each region worldwide, data on the number of recoveries is less accurate. Many counties, states, territories and regions do not record how many residents have recovered from their illness.
“The cure cases outside of China are estimated based on local media news and this number could be significantly lower than the real number,” said Douglas Donovan, a spokesman for Johns University Hopkins, told CNN .
In addition, because testing is limited in number of countries, including the United States , only the most serious cases are given priority for testing.
People with mild or asymptomatic symptoms are less likely to be tested. This means that many patients with mild illness are not included in the total number of infections or recovered.
And it can distort the knowledge and predictions of disease experts.
“Knowing the number of people who have the disease will be very helpful in creating a model to predict when the disease will peak and when life can return to normal,” said Bala Hota, professor of epidemiology and deputy director. Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, told CNN .
Hota said many patients still had a mild cough and felt tired even after being considered recovering and no longer passing the virus to others. It may take a long time to completely return to normal after being infected with Covid-19.
“It may take up to 6 weeks to recover from infection,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Emergency Medical Program (WHO), told a news conference. People who are seriously ill can take months to recover.
For patients on ventilators, the process is different.
“We see ventilator patients have to use ventilators for a few weeks,” Dr. J. Randall Curtis, a professor at Washington Harborview University Medical Center, told US News & World Report .
“When they get off the ventilator, they usually have to stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days and then be hospitalized for a few days to a week to recover.”
Shu-Yuan Xiao, a professor at the University of Chicago Medical School, told ABC News that most people with mild Covid-19 often recover without “leaving legacy.” However, for seriously ill patients, the future is very dim.
Hospital management in Hong Kong noted in March that in a group of 12 patients who recovered from Covid-19, two to three people had reduced lung function during follow-up visits with doctors.
Some patients gasped when they were just walking, according to the South China Morning Post. Computed tomography of 9 patients showed signs of injury.
However, because the coronavirus was first identified in December, there was not much time for scientists to study patients recovering and announcing the results.
However, experts know that severe pneumonia can leave sequelae on the body. If a patient suffers from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), their lungs may become fibrosis.
“The consequences of it are the same as those of any illness that is severe enough to make you in ICU,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Health Security Center. with ABC News .
Both Mr. Adalja and Mr. Xiao said that some seriously ill patients may never fully recover lung function.
Antibody and immunity
Infected people will have antibodies that will help them fight Covid-19. This gives them immunity to the virus, but it is unclear how long the immunity lasts.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Research and a member of the White House’s anti-Covid-19 group, said he was ready to bet anything on the statement people who are cured are immune. ”
Mr. Fauci also said that because the virus did not change much, those who recovered had immunity when the second wave of infection entered the US in the fall.
“If infected in February, March and recovered, I believe that by September, October, that person will be protected from viruses,” Mr. Fauci added.
That’s why identifying people who have recovered from a virus infection is imperative in their fight against the disease. These people can return to work and still be safe.
Several companies are developing blood tests that help detect Covid-19 antibodies to identify people who are immune.
“This can help us find people who can bring the country back to the normal pace of life,” Florian Krammer, a vaccine professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, told Reuters . “People who are immune to the virus are the first to be able to return to normal life.”
However, some information has raised concerns that immunity does not last as long as we hope. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on April 6 that 51 people recovering from Covid-19 infection were found to be positive again.
China also recorded similar cases. But the general manager of CDC Korea, Jeong Eun-kyeong, said that there were viruses in 51 patients who were active again rather than re-infected.
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