Misinformation on the novel coronavirus can be found almost anywhere online, particularly about how to kill the virus or become immune. Mark Albert asked three doctors about the virus: Dr. Leana Wen, former health commissioner of Baltimore, infectious disease specialist Dr. Jodie Dionne-Odom, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Dr. Jesse Goodman, attending physician at Georgetown University. Here are their answers.
Once you contract coronavirus, are you then immune from getting the disease again?
Wen: It's a great question and it's one that we've been getting asked a lot from people who are concerned. So if this new coronavirus, COVID-19, behaves as we believe that it does, then someone who has gotten it should have developed immunity to it and therefore you should not get it again. And I just would emphasize that this is what we know as of right now.
When Dionne-Odom was asked if a person could contract the virus twice, she agreed with Wen's statement, and reemphasized that the data still isn't robust.
Dionne-Odom: There's some preliminary scientific data showing no. But the first case was first described at the end of November. So it's really too early to be sure whether or not re-infection is possible. The answer hopefully will be no.
If and when a vaccine is made available, should everyone get vaccinated or only those who are sick?
Goodman: One thing that could be considered is we may be able to use blood testing to identify people who've already been exposed and are immune. And if so, they might not need it. But right now, (if we weather the storm and get through the worst of the virus, and we see) amounts go down, but if there's not evidence that everybody is immune and the vaccine is available, it's something that would be used generally to help protect healthy people.