There's always a first time for everyone. After three years of living life virus free, I got Covid-19 from a friend after attending a concert recently. However, to my surprise, my first experience wasn't all that terrible. I felt mildly ill, with fever and body aches, but no sore throat or a lung infection. Fortunately, I was able to look after myself at home and the symptoms only lasted a week.
This is probably ironic to say, but getting infected has some positives, as it's proven that my history of vaccination and boosters actually worked. We have been fighting against something that isn't visible to the naked eye, and you will never know for sure whether the vaccines would really protect you if you have never been sick. It's almost like we are wasting a good amount of money each year on insurance companies while staying healthy. We'll never know if those insurance companies would provide us with enough satisfaction if we've never been sick. Of course, it would have been better to never get infected at all because we have learned that some may suffer long-term health problems even after recovering. But we all knew it's almost impossible to avoid it forever.
The Center for Medical Genomics, Ramathibodi Hospital, recently posted a message according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, which stated that a full dose or two vaccinations, were critical in order to reduce morbidity, death and mutations and that 70% of the world's population should be vaccinated as per guidelines from the World Health Organization. However, they also admit that "natural protective immunity" gained from infection is superior to immunity obtained from the vaccine, and the risk of getting sick is reduced by 55.3 times.
After recovery from infection, the memory arm of your immune system may persist in your body for months, maybe even years. Cellular memory tends to be much more stable than antibodies. And so even if you do get an infection after you've been vaccinated, or after you've recovered from an infection, you're not starting from the same point that you did because you now have this pre-primed memory in your immune system. So what we're seeing in some of these infections is that vaccinated people get a few mild symptoms but don't get sick. They don't end up in the hospital with severe diseases because the backup plan or the immune system jumps into action much more quickly. But there's some evidence that suggests immunity after infection might be different than immunity after vaccination and those that have gotten vaccinated after recovering from an infection may actually have a stronger immune response than those who have never been infected.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists and researchers have been constantly looking for new ways to combat variants. Besides injection and pills, one of the latest and most effective methods could be a nasal vaccine. This vaccine would be delivered through the nose instead of needles and injections. This would make vaccinations quicker, easier and more accessible and for some people less terrifying. There are already around a dozen nasal Covid vaccines in development and in clinical trials where they're being tested on large groups of people, according to Scientific American. Some of these vaccines have already shown promising results when tested on animals. If you get an injectable vaccine or booster today, you'd need to go to a doctor's office or pharmacy. But a nasal vaccine could potentially be administered at home. According to the University of Oxford, they are now testing nasal vaccinations to determine safety but it will take another year or two before they become available. When you think of vaccines, you probably think of needles and injections, and for some people, this can make getting shots scary and daunting. So I do believe when this nasal becomes available, it would help us move to a world free from Covid.
Tatat Bunnag is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.