Too early for persons to develop immunity for COVID-19 says CMO

July 07, 2020
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, addresses a COVID-19 virtual press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, recently.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, says not enough time has passed to determine whether persons who have had COVID-19 will develop immunity to the disease.        

The CMO pointed out that most countries have not gone a full six months since being affected by the disease.

“It is still early to determine if and when persons develop antibodies, if those antibodies will prevent them from getting the disease again, and if so, how long they will be protected,” she explained.         

The CMO said that there are some infections that will give you lifelong immunity and some infections that will give you a shorter immunity. 

“We don’t have all the information on this SARS COV 2 virus. With other coronaviruses we have seen an immunity period of two to three years and many persons are hoping that this is the kind of immunity that will be conferred by this virus, but we are still unsure of this,” the CMO said.        

She noted that the disease was first discovered in China in December and that the first country to be affected outside of China, which was Thailand, had its first case in January.     

“We continue to get new information, and this is still a fairly new disease, so you have case studies coming out every day, with some even contradicting others. Today you hear something, two weeks later it’s something different,” the CMO noted.

“Information is being processed from different types of populations, and how one population responds may not be the same as another population, so we have to recognise that the information is changing and we have to be open to receive those changes in information,” she added.

Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie conceded that since the onset of the disease, there have been a few cases in other countries, where persons have reported being reinfected although they had been declared COVID-free.  

She warned against raising alarms in these instances, as there could be valid explanations.           

The CMO said it was possible that a discharge test might not have been done and that there was instead a reliance on cessation of symptoms to declare the person COVID-free. In that event, she said that the persons could have developed symptoms, due to other influenza-like illnesses and had a test redone.    

“Such a person would be found to be COVID-positive, but that does not necessarily mean that the person is infectious and it does not mean that the person would have had a new COVID infection, but rather that it was latent in the body,” she explained.    

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