Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been hearing a lot about general preparedness, herd immunity, and talk of a vaccine in the development. Some state officials have also been speaking about allowing those who have been through the coronavirus and have healed to go back to work. Why? Because they have antibodies or fighter cells to not just be immune to the virus, but also not be able to spread it around. But how long does it really take to become immune to a virus? We here at Sporteluxe did some research and found out. Keep reading below for more!
Building Immunity From A Virus Naturally
The body fights infection, the following process happens. When a virus invades the body, it attacks and multiplies. This infection is what causes illness. The immune system uses several tools to fight infection. According to the CDC, blood contains red blood cells, for carrying oxygen to tissues and organs, and white or immune cells, for fighting infection. These white cells consist primarily of macrophages, B-lymphocytes and T-lymphocytes:
Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs, plus dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them.
B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the antigens left behind by the macrophages.
T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that have already been infected. The first time the body encounters a germ, it can take several days to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection.
After you have an infection, the immune system remembers what it learned from your previous infection. It learns how to protect the body against the disease you had. The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells, that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same germ again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to protect your body and attack the infection.
Vaccines help you fight off disease by developing immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection will almost never cause you to get sick. It does, however, cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are totally normal and nothing to worry about. This happens when you are building immunity from a virus.
According to the CDC, once the imitation infection goes away, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future. However, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person infected with a disease just before or just after vaccination could develop symptoms and get a disease because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.