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After Infection, Are You Immune to COVID-19? Immunity Key to Reopening

Whether or not someone has recovered from COVID-19, conferring some level of immunity, is crucial to determine when they can safely get back to work and out in public again.

As a result, how to test for COVID-19 immunity on a massive scale is a central question for local leaders in the U.S. as they plan to reopen the country.

But how does coronavirus immunity work?

If someone is infected with the novel coronavirus, do they become immune? If so, does it always work? If you become immune, how long will it last?

The answers to these questions could determine how long the coronavirus lockdown lasts.

How Immunity Works

There are three ways a person can be immune to a disease, according to MedicineNet medical author William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR.

First, he says, people can be innately immune, as they are for example to the dog disease canine distemper. This virus causes great harm to dogs and puppies, and spreads easily to other dogs, but human beings cannot be infected with it.

The next way a person can become immune, says Dr. Shiel, is by developing an immune response after you have already been infected. Your body produces specialized white blood cells that adapt to new infections in order to destroy them, according to Medscape medical author Pedro A. de Alarcon, MD.

This is called adaptive immunity, and it can protect you for a certain time against a given virus, but the protection lasts longer for some diseases than others.

Vaccines provide the third way a person can become immune to a disease, says Dr. Shiel. Some vaccines are effective for life, while others need to be “boosted” periodically with additional doses.

The duration of a vaccine’s effectiveness can vary due to the nature of the infection, but also due to how the vaccine is prepared. Live vaccines usually provide longer-lasting protection than some other vaccines, according to New Zealand’s Immunisation Advisory Centre.

What We Know About COVID-19 and Immunity

We know very little for certain about the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although studies of other coronaviruses suggest how it might work.

In the late 1970s, doctors inoculated 18 volunteers with a common, mild coronavirus that causes cold symptoms, as described in the New York Times by Dr. Marc Lipsitch. The volunteers developed colds as expected. To see how their immune systems would protect them, a year later 6 of the volunteers were inoculated again with the same virus. None of them became infected again.

Researchers inoculated the remaining 12 volunteers to a slightly different coronavirus strain, but they showed only partial immune protection from that virus.

We have not run these tests on the more dangerous known coronaviruses SARS or MERS, mostly because those deadly infections have not infected as many people, Dr. Lipsitch said. But we have tested the antibodies produced in the blood of people infected with these diseases.

The antibody tests revealed that immunity lasts two years against SARS infection, and nearly three against MERS, Dr. Lipsitch said.

“However, the neutralizing ability of these antibodies — a measure of how well they inhibit virus replication — was already declining during the study periods,” he said.

These data have led researchers to suspect that people who recover from COVID-19 infection remain immune to the virus for a year or more. However, this hasn’t been proven.

New studies have begun to emerge that shed light on how immunity may work against SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

One fact has emerged regarding antibody testing. Antibodies—the white cells designed to fight a specific pathogen—take time to emerge in people infected by SARS CoV-2. In the first 10 days of infection, these tests cannot show that a person has the disease.

One study out of China found that it takes up to 15 days on average for some of the antibodies to emerge in an infected person’s blood.

But what policymakers want to know is whether a new outbreak of COVID-19 is likely to be as dangerous as the current one. And they need to know how to prepare either way.

Why ‘Herd Immunity’ Is Needed for COVID-19

Dr. Lipsitch is an expert on the topic of coronavirus. He thinks it is likely that herd immunity will eventually develop around COVID-19, but that it hasn’t happened yet.

Herd immunity is commonly understood as “the presence of immune individuals in a population (who) can indirectly protect those who are not immune against infection,” says epidemiologist Caroline L. Trotter, Ph.D., for Medscape.

That means the more people in a population who have recovered from an infection, the more immune people there are in the population. And their immunity has the effect of protecting others who are not immune.

That is especially important for people who cannot produce their own immune response to a virus, and is one of the main reasons why the flu shot is recommended for all people each year.

When infections are spread, “transmission will be highest in a fully susceptible population,” Dr. Trotter said. Such is the case right now across the world for COVID-19.

Dr. Lipsitch has worked on teams studying thousands of cases of seasonal coronavirus in the United States. From this work he concludes “immunity over a year or so is likely for the two seasonal coronaviruses most closely related to SARS-CoV-2 — an indication perhaps of how immunity to SARS CoV-2 itself might also behave.”QUESTIONWhat is the Wuhan coronavirus?See Answer

He explains that for the number of new infections to go down, more and more people need to become immune to the virus. When the average infected person spreads infection to less than one other person, this will cause the number of new cases to fall.

All of this means that immunity—and herd immunity specifically — are the keys to leaving lockdown. Whether that immunity comes from natural infections over time, or instead through the development of a vaccine, only time can tell.

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Having been under virtual house arrest for some time, it’s easy to get carried away with the excitement of a short break, post Covid-19. You’re taking in new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. It’s an adventure for the soul. But rich foods and drinks, lack of exercise and the stress of travel, particularly with young children, can take a toll on your health. To avoid paying for it later on, take a few steps to remain healthy.

REMEMBER TO GET ENOUGH SLEEP

A holiday after such a stressful period for everyone might be much welcomed, but don’t neglect your sleep patterns. Aim for six to nine hours a night and take a short nap in the afternoon if you need it.

WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN

Stop germs in their tracks. Remember: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. This isn’t just good advice in a pandemic, it’s important every single day of your life. Practice it frequently throughout the day to prevent spread of diarrhea and respiratory disease, too. PACK SMART While it’s great to finally be free to enjoy a break, beware of the holiday cheer. Many hotels offer complimentary drinks, snacks or cakes. The result can be hard on your system. Pack Udo’s Choice Ultimate Digestive Enzyme Blend, to aid your digestion. A unique blend of seven plant-based digestive enzymes assist in the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fibre. Udo’s Choice Super 8 Microbiotic is a hi-count microbiotic blend that contains eight strains of lacto and bifido bacteria. Each daily capsule contains 42 billion ‘friendly’ bacteria. Both products can be found in your local health food store or pharmacy.

ALWAYS KEEP HYDRATED

Drink lots of water. Spending hours travelling can dehydrate you. Carry a large bottle of water to have throughout your journey, and pack Manuka Lozenges with vitamin C for an added immune boost and try to choose caffeine free drinks throughout the day.

EAT FISH

If you’re staying by the sea, eat lots of fresh grilled fish. Oily fish –including sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel – is particularly good as it’s rich in Omega 3, which keeps your skin hydrated and encourages healthy digestion as well as weight loss. Try to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables – oranges, red peppers, green courgettes, yellow sweet corn – to get a wide range of antioxidants.

PROTECT FROM THE SUN

Lying in the sunshine feels great but you only need 10 minutes of unprotected sun to get your daily dose of vitamin D. After that you should use sunblock. As we get older, the collagen in our skin breaks down more rapidly, leading to lines, wrinkles and discolouring. To prevent the breaking down of collagen, eat lots of purple fruits, such as fresh blackberries, blueberries and black grapes.

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Experts support COVID vaccines for Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients

British Society of Gastroenterology Inflammatory Bowel Disease Section and IBD Clinical Research Group release statement supporting COVID-19 vaccines.

You will be able to have the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; you need the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; and you will be prioritised because you are immunosuppressed.Dr Nick PowellClinical Reader and Consultant in Gastroenterology

The statement, co-written by the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction’s Dr Nick Powell, Dr James Alexander and external colleagues, strongly supports SARS-CoV2 vaccinations for patients with IBD, while underscoring the risks of taking the vaccination in IBD patients are anticipated to be very low.

Patients with IBD may have increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. The main concerns around IBD patients taking the vaccine are related to the theoretical risk of sub-optimal vaccine responses rather than vaccine side effects. Even if vaccine effectiveness was reduced it would still likely offer some protection from the virus. The one thing for certain is that if you don’t have the vaccine you will remain at high risk of getting the virus

Dr Powell has spoken about potential side effects, stating: “The risks of vaccination are very low, and are mostly confined to short-lived, mild side effects, like headache or fatigue. On the other hand, the risks of COVID-19 infection are sadly all too familiar. More than 1 in 1000 people in the UK have already lost their lives to this deadly virus. Vaccination is the best way of protecting IBD patients from COVID-19 and will be the most important route for us to get back on track with our lives”.

The team has been working on a number of projects and events around public and patient engagement with the vaccines. At the end of last year, Dr Powell was one of a number of experts on a panel discussing covid vaccines for people with Crohn’s or Colitis. The panel answered patient questions and alleviated potential fears they may have about being vaccinated. Catch up on the event here.

With the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already receiving MHRA approval, and the Moderna vaccine approval expected shortly, it is recommended that IBD patients accept whichever approved SARS-CoV2 vaccination is offered to them.

Speaking about the vaccines, Dr Powell said: “Vaccination against SARS-CoV2 holds the key to beating this deadly disease. It is especially important in vulnerable patient groups. We have engaged extensively with our patients and have found that there are significant concerns and worries about the vaccines. The IBD experts of the British Society of Gastroenterology unanimously agree that vaccination is by far the best option for IBD patients, and indeed other patient groups needing to take immunosuppressive drugs.”

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Hand Sanitiser Handrub Formulation -100ml

> MSDS / REACH compliant – see safety data sheet on request

> EU Manufactured

IF IN EYES: Rinse cautiously with water for several minutes. Remove contact lenses, if present and easy to do. Continue rinsing. If eye irritation persists, seek medical advice/attention. If medical advice is needed, ensure product container or label is at hand.

Ingredients: 80% alcohol, Glycerine, Hydrogen Peroxide

Danger: Highly Flammable liquid and vapour. Causes serious eye irritation. Keep out of reach of children. Keep away from heat, hot surfaces, sparks, open flames and other ignition sources. No smoking

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