Recovered COVID-19 patients may not be protected, experts say

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Without a federally-approved treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19, infectious disease experts said the strongest line of defense against the virus is how well the community responds to it.

Biotech companies around the world are racing to produce the first vaccine, but U.S. health experts don't anticipate one being ready until the beginning of 2021 at the earliest.

"We have to be able to control COVID-19 and until we have vaccines and effective anti-virals, the best way to control it is our actions," said Dr. Pedro Piedra, who is a professor of virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Meanwhile, doctors are experimenting with treatments like transfusing antibody plasma into COVID-19 patients.

The plasma comes from patients who've already recovered from the virus, but Piedra said it's also crucial for people who've recovered to keep their guard up and practice social distancing.

"Right now, we don't know if you're going to be lifetime-protected, which is unlikely, because of the type of virus that this is versus more likely that we will be re-infected, and exactly when? We don't know," he said. "There's a lot to be learned, and we just need to be cautious and need to protect ourselves and those around us."

New data also shows more children are getting sick with COVID-19 even though the infection rate remains much lower than adults. The Texas Tribune recently reported more than 300 children in Texas childcare centers have tested positive for the virus, and numbers continue to rise quickly.

"We're having really more age groups that are mingling together, and I think that's why we're seeing more children being infected, because the lockdown really spread families, really closed down families to other folks, and that has opened. I think that is changing the epidemiology in part of the pandemic," Piedra said.

With no vaccine or approved treatment, health officials urge you to take social distancing seriously by staying six feet apart from others and wearing a mask in public.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.