We have been asked this question a lot. And in an attempt to find the answer for ourselves and for everyone else asking, we have spoken to our doctors, to the Health Department, to friends who are doctors, we’ve Googled it, read literature and assimilated the following to attempt to answer this question for ourselves as well as everyone asking.
The short answer: Probably not.
The longer answer:
This is a novel virus. Scientists, doctors and a lot of other clever people are doing their best to figure out the way that this particular virus works and behaves. They have not yet been able to conclude for certain whether contracting and recovering from the virus once will build up enough immunity in the body to prevent reinfection should that same person come into contact with the virus for a second time.
And because it hasn’t been scientifically proven, doctors and medical professionals are reserved to say “you can’t get it again” and rightly so!
However what is known about viruses in general (such as the flu virus) and taken as medically true, is that by being exposed to a particular virus once, the body builds up antibodies to the virus (soldiers who get to know the invader and learn how to fight that particular invader off), which enables the body to fight off that particular virus should it come into contact with it again.
That’s the reason we get flu shots/vaccines - we get a small dosage of the flu virus injected into us. Small enough to not make us sick but enough to “teach” the body how to fight off the virus so that if and when you come into contact with the virus again during the season, your immune system can fight it off and you won’t get sick.
So given the above along with the fact that this virus behaves in very similar ways to every other virus and combined with the fact that there have been (almost) no cases or reinfection with COVID-19, it’s safe to conclude that we have built up the antibodies needed to fight it off should we be exposed to it again and so therefore, we conclude:
No, we cannot be infected by COVID-19 a second time!
However, it’s important to add that large numbers of people are going to contract this virus and due to that simple fact, it’s possible that there might be random cases pop up of people getting sick twice.
And the other important point to note is that should the virus mutate before we’re able to find a vaccine or get this under control, we might not be immune to the new version/mutation of the virus (which is why we get flu vaccines each season as the flu virus mutates and changes).
And that is the reason we’ve mentioned that we are immune for about 6 months.
I hope that helps to understand re-infection on COVID-19?
Disclaimer: I nor my family are doctors, scientists or medical professionals. We are speaking from our experience and the information we have assimilated while going through recovery from COVID-19.
If you are concerned about symptoms or require medical advice, please contact your doctor or the South African COVID-19 call centre, refer to the NICD website or to the WHO.