June 15, 2024

PORTSMOUTH — COVID-19 has been pervasive for more than two years. It has been almost impossible to escape. Yet there are those who claim to have never contracted the virus that laid low the world.

Is it possible that some people may be immune to the virus? Do they have super-immunity?

Possible, but unlikely, say the infectious disease experts. Because of that, they continue to urge those who think they are immune, and everyone else, to take precautions.

For more than two years, some people believe they have evaded the COVID-19, never detecting an infection through symptoms or testing, and are starting to believe they may be immune to the coronavirus.  Local health experts say that probably is not the case, but don't rule out the possibility.

Dr. Vandara Madhavan, clinical director of pediatric infectious disease at Mass General for Children, said there are two different mechanisms, leading to thoughts on why some people seem not to get COVID-19 even after repeated close contact with infected people, even family members they live with.

“First is that they have had a true infection that has not been detected,” she said. “Initially, when the pandemic began, testing was difficult to access. So we did things like test a parent and then, if positive, assume the entire family was infected. Now tests are easier to get and people can even test at home.”

What access to better testing showed are variants, like delta and omicron, while highly transmissible, produced milder cases in most vaccinated people.

Dr.  Vandara Madhavan

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“So people might not be among those counted, because they are not sick, or they are so mildly sick they chalk it up to a cold or to allergies,” Madhavan said. “Even so, they are developing antibodies, even in the large part of the population who have had COVID and didn’t know it because they did not develop enough of a viral load for it to be detected on a home test.”

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