Can you catch SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) twice? It’s possible.
Unfortunately, we aren’t quite sure yet whether (and for how long) people who have recovered from the virus are immune to it after they recover. Having immunity against future COVID-19-related infections makes a huge difference to individuals and society at large. The greater the number of immune people in the population (i.e. herd immunity), the fewer number of susceptible individuals. This would help put an end to the pandemic.
Immunity to coronaviruses that cause the common cold lasts between one and three years. This means that when you are reexposed to the virus, your immune system produces proteins (called antibodies) that stops the virus in its tracks. Antibodies are essentially a little tag placed on the virus, marking it for destruction.
Whether that’s true of COVID-19 or not is still up in the air. Research in China has shown that monkeys infected with this virus appear to be immune from reinfection, but we don’t yet know how long their immunity will last (i.e., if monkeys infected with this virus are immune after 12, 24, and 36 months). From our experience with Coronavirus SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, also known as SARS-CoV-1) 2003 pandemic, immunity reportedly lasted eight to ten years for some coronavirus infections but not all. Secondary infections are usually less severe and less contagious.
Bottom line: caution to survivors of infection with COVID-19 is warranted. You should not assume you’re immune from future infections, at least not at this point in time. Immunity varies from disease to disease. It may be as short as a season, or in some cases may last decades.
To illustrate the latter example, consider the measles epidemic in 1846 on an island 200 miles north of Scotland. Virtually everyone got it because measles is one of the most infectious diseases. After the outbreak, there were no cases of measles on the island for 65 years. Then measles came back, and again everyone on the island was infected, except those over 65 because they were still immune.
At present, your best bet is to do all you can to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 the first time by staying at home, especially if you’re sick or live in a city or state that has stay-at-home orders. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, don’t shake hands with anyone and try not to touch your face. And if you do contract a mild infection, don’t assume that you’re immune afterward.
As noted in our last blog, Drugs & Immune System Boosters, I highlighted information on the cytokine storm. Inflammation is generated in the form of cytokines, recruiting more white blood cells, to stop the spread of infection. The cytokine storm sets the stage for a severe adverse health outcome.
Again, oxidative damage and cytokine storms are reduced by various natural therapies and lifestyle choices. Quality sleep and stress reduction techniques help to reduce these inflammatory cytokines, thereby decreasing inflammation. Digestive health influences our immune system, so healthy gut function and the microbiome is another helpful player here. These are all preventative measures.
Leading experts in the integrative functional medicine world are recommending the following agents for prevention and after a full recovery:
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
- Isolated polysaccharide extracts from medicinal mushrooms
- Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Vitamin D
Preventing COVID-19 infection is in your hands.
We strongly recommend you follow these daily practices.
- Hydrate adequately every day with WATER. Aim to have at least half your weight in oz or about 4 liters per day.
- Avoid dehydrating beverages (i.e., alcohol, coffee, black tea, soda, fruit juices) since they deplete the immune system.
- Use oil-based soaps such as Dr. Bronner’s Castille soap and water for handwashing.
- Get plenty of sleep every night (i.e., 8 hours).
- Intermittent fasting for 12 to 16 hours at night reduces pathogen load. This simply means have an earlier, lighter dinner or skip it altogether.
- Avoid consuming animal protein such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. They are the biggest source of coronavirus and other antibiotic-resistance pathogen exposure since they have been proven to be transmitted through these foods.
- Focus on consuming whole plant-based foods such as lots of vegetables, mushrooms, beans, and ancient whole grains (i.e., quinoa, millet, amaranth) dressed with fresh herbs, spices (i.e., turmeric), oil, and lemon. Enjoy an orange or apple a day (peel included).
- Avoid nicotine and smoking/vaping any other drugs (i.e., marijuana).
- Cut down to avoid taking your heartburn medications (i.e., PPIs/antacids) and NSAIDs (i.e., Aspirin, Motrin, Advil, Aleve) since they damage the immune system.
There is a lot of concern, discussion, and confusion at the moment regarding how best to support your immune system and stay safe going forward.
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Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health.
Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns. We take the extra step to understand the root cause and how to optimize every organ’s functioning. By better understanding how your environment directly fits into your overall well-being, we create personalized treatment plans which drive away sickness. To learn more and book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.