TAMPA, Fla.— — New research is honing in on how long you’re protected from COVID-19 once you’ve had and recovered from the illness. Still, health experts warn immunity might still mean you’re able to pass on the virus.
Helaine Solc and her husband, Zunya, both had COVID-19, with Zunya’s case being severe.
“He was on the ventilator for two weeks,” said Helaine. “Twice during that course of time, I got a call from the doctor preparing me for his death.”
Both Helaine and Zunya have since recovered, but regardless of immunity, they say they aren’t taking any chances and are strict with safety measures.
“Even with the vaccine, we still need to use a mask and social distance. This is no joke,” said Helaine.
A Public Health England (PHE) study found past COVID-19 infection may provide some immunity for at least five months. The study’s early evidence also suggests those with immunity may still be able to carry the virus in their nose and throat and have a risk of passing it on to other people.
Experts say this research highlights the crucial need for everyone, whether you've had COVID-19 or not, to follow health protocols.
“You can spread it. That means you need to take the standard public health precautions we’ve been talking about this whole time, so masks, physical distancing, hand sanitation,” said USF Health’s Dr. Michael Teng.
Dr. Teng explains it’s going to take some time to know exactly how long immunity will fully last. The PHE study will continue to look at how long any immunity will last and to what extent people with immunity are able to carry and spread the virus.
“There’s no cheat code for time,” said Teng. “This is not a video game. You can’t speed up time in terms of looking at the duration of immunity.”
While researchers continue to study COVID-19, the Solcs say people need to take the virus seriously, while reminding people safety measures are just a small sacrifice in a bigger picture.
“By you washing your hands, wearing a mask, and keeping the distance, you are protecting also the rest of the people you may interact [with], and that is as important as protecting you, I believe,” said Zunya.