The World Health Organization still has no idea if coronavirus patients build enough immunity to stop them from getting sick again in the future, a top doctor there has admitted.
“With regards to recovery and then reinfection, I believe we do not have the answers to that. That is an unknown,” the WHO’s executive director of emergencies, Dr. Mike Ryan, told a press briefing Monday.
While they “would expect” those who recover from the bug would build immunity for at least a period of time, Ryan said it was too early to know.
However, there have been numerous reports of recovered patients getting sick again — with the suggestion that the disease is even more severe the second time.
“It is very difficult to say that with a new virus. we can only extrapolate from other coronaviruses and even that the data is quite limited,” Ryan said.
A preliminary study of patients in Shanghai showed wildly different responses, with some patients having “no detectable antibody response” while others had a very high response, the organization said.
This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the spherical particles of the new coronavirus.AP
“The information is mixed,” the WHO’s lead scientist on COVID-19, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, said.
“Right now, we don’t have a full picture of what immunity looks like. Until we do, we can’t give a complete answer,” she said.