CDC Backtracks On '3 Month Window Of Immunity' Claim

by Madison Vanderberg
Originally Published: 
Luis Alvarez/Getty/iStock

New information out of the CDC said that immunity following coronavirus infection lasts approximately three months

UPDATE: This post has been corrected to include the CDC’s statement this morning that their research and reporting did not imply that immunity lasted for three months.

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a struggle to get clear information about the novel coronavirus, and one of the biggest question marks is what a positive COVID-19 test means for one’s future immunity. If I get COVID am I immune forever, am I immune at all? An update from the CDC this month stated that people who have been infected with the virus and recovered are immune for up to three months after the fact.

This morning, the CDC backtracked with a new statement:

“Contrary to media reporting today, this science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 3 months following infection. The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness.”

But as The Hill reports, “The statement marks a reversal from guidance the CDC issued earlier this month saying that a person who has recovered from COVID-19 will likely be safe from reinfection for three months. The earlier guidance represented the first recognition of a defined immunity period for people who have recovered from the coronavirus.”

The immunity update was quietly dropped in a CDC page on how and when to quarantine and stated that a person who does not have the coronavirus will have to quarantine for 14 days if they come in close contact with someone who is positive for the virus, however, a healthy person does not need to quarantine themselves if they come in contact with another person who “had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.”

“People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again,” a statement on the CDC’s website reads. “People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.”

Doctors and many media outlets clearly took that to mean immunity lasts for three months — well, because it sounded like it.

The CDC reportedly arrived at this fact after a study published in June stated that antibodies “start to decrease within 2–3 months after infection.” This new three-month window of protection brings up a whole host of new questions, but this knowledge is coming at a good time, especially as COVID-19 cases skyrocket across the country and many falsely assumed that surviving the virus was a free pass for lifetime immunity. Stay safe out there.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.

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