Jab stays important

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Jab stays important

Tuesday, 15 June 2021 | MUSBA HASHMI

Jab stays important

A group of experts suggest that those infected with COVID don’t need to get vaccinated, others believe it is too early to say so. MUSBA HASHMI brings you a report

Only last week, a group of experts opined that patients who had recovered from COVID, don’t need to get vaccinated, as they have already developed antibodies. This came weeks after the Health Ministry had recommended COVID patients to get vaccinated after three months of recovery.

However, not many doctors are happy with the claim and say that it is too soon to say anything.

“Our knowledge about COVID is in constant flux. Currently, the data says vaccine should be given after 90 days from the infection for best results. Whether there is lasting immunity after initial COVID infection is still a matter of debate, hence although it may seem likely that in the future vaccination may not be required after infection it is not the case at the moment,” Dr Chandril Chugh, Director, Dr Good Deed, Patna, says.

He adds that all infected people should get vaccinated after three months. “Every time our body is exposed to an infection a sort of blueprint or memory is formed to counter future infections, if they may arise. Hence, antibodies are not the only measure of protection against infection, memory cells also play their part,” he tells you.

There is data that antibodies can  persist after COVID infection anywhere from three to eight months, Chugh asserts. 

However, with that being said, cases of reinfection is not an alien concept. Chugh believes that these can be attributed to the mutations in the virus.

“Reinfections can be attributed to a lot of factors like different variants and/or low immunity. Though, the chances of reinfections are low and it doesn’t affect a majority of patients. As more and more data comes, we will have better answers but remember even though you are vaccinated you should wear mask and take precautions,” he opines.

Dr Piyush Goel, Senior Consultant — Pulmonary and Critical Care, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurugram, insists that patients should get vaccinated after at least 12 weeks of recovery. “A patient who got infected with the virus, too should get vaccinated after at least 12 weeks of getting cured,” Goel says and adds that there is no such robust data to analyse how long antibodies stay but  they will be there for at least three months post recovery.

The reason for reinfection, he says, is because antibodies can disappear after three months, or can decrease to a certain level, and as a result can’t prevent a person from getting reinfection.

Dr Arunesh Kumar, Sr Consultant & Head Respiratory Medicine/Pulmonology, Paras Hospital, agrees with Chugh and Goel and says that in the absence of proper studies we should resort to vaccines only as they are your best available protective shield against the virus.

“It is too early to to say COVID recovered patients don’t need vaccination. The reason is there’s no proper data of how long the immunity stays, it may differ from person to person and can even depend on the severity of the infection. Some say mild COVID patients can have higher immunity. Again, there are no facts yet to prove it. Also, we can’t rule out the  possibility of mutations. It can lead to reinfection. So, for the time being, we would recommend people to get vaccinated,” Kumar says.

Dr Col Vijay Dutta, Senior Consultant — Internal Medicine, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, too agrees on the fact that COVID infected patients have immunity which can last for three to six months and that it has been documented. “We don’t know whether this acquired immunity will last beyond six months or not. The present data is only valid maximum up to six months irrespective of the clinical status of the patient — whether he had mild, moderate or severe infection,” Dutta says.

Several other doctors opine that we should wait for proper studies to back the fact and decide later on. Meanwhile, as said previously, your jab stays important.

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