It has recently been announced that India will roll out its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 2021. All Indians have sighed with relief because we hope that very soon things will go back to normal.
But one question that is on our minds and that has not yet been answered is this – Will COVID-19 survivors get the vaccine?
Here’s what we know so far-
COVID-19 survivors may have the required immunity
Why do some people think COVID-19 survivors do not need the vaccine? Let us first see how the COVID-19 vaccine works. The vaccine will inject a very tiny dose of coronavirus into the bloodstream. So little that it is not at all dangerous. But your body’s immunity will sense the danger and start producing antibodies that can destroy the coronavirus. Thus you have an army on the stand-by. If you are ever exposed to the virus, this army will spring into action and defeat the virus.
This is immunization through vaccination. But did you know that immunization also happens through exposure to disease? People who have caught COVID-19 have also developed antibodies the same way. And those antibodies are in their blood now. Hence, COVID-19 survivors are already immune to COVID-19. They have the required immunity without the COVID-19 vaccine. That is why many experts feel that the doses of coronavirus vaccine should be saved for people who have never contracted COVID-19.
Vaccines may not suit COVID-19 survivors
Another reason why healthcare professionals are hesitant to vaccinate COVID-19 survivors is that they do not know how their bodies would react to the COVID-19 vaccine.
In all the COVID-19 vaccine trials only people who had never been exposed to the virus were injected with the vaccine candidates. No COVID-19 vaccine trial enlisted COVID-19 survivors. So there is no data or analysis of how the COVID-19 vaccine acts in their body. It might be dangerous to give them the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vulnerable groups even among COVID-19 survivors may need the vaccine
Might COVID-19 survivors be in need of the COVID-19 vaccine after all? There are conflicting studies on how long their acquired immunity lasts. While some reports have said that immunity lasts for only 3 months others say that they might be safe for longer than that.
And what about COVID-19 survivors with comorbidities such as heart conditions, diabetes, hypertension, etc? Their immunity is already compromised. Again, it is not known whether they might require extra protection which the COVID-19 vaccine may offer.
For now who’ll be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Indian government has also released a priority list of people who will be receiving the vaccine. As expected, the healthcare providers, frontline workers, people above 50 years of age, and people with comorbidities will receive the vaccine before others.
Until further information is released by the Government, we will not know whether COVID-19 survivors will need the COVID-19 vaccine. In the meantime, let us all comply with COVID-19 protocol to stay safe.