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.
“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.