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Mask, Travel Rules for COVID Survivors Should Change: Doctor

Scientists continue to investigate how long immunity lasts from the vaccines and for those who got infected with COVID-19.

New evidence shows both have strong protection. But in the United States, they don’t have the same rules.

There is now a push for health leaders to allow people who have recovered from COVID and have natural immunity to have the same access to travel and masking guidance as those who are vaccinated.

Countries like France and Germany allow Americans to visit if they are fully vaccinated — or have proof of recovery — by showing a doctor’s note.

“There are large studies done from Israel, Cleveland Clinic, and other places that show that your rate of re-infection, at least for the first year, is the same after vaccination than it is after natural infection,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF.

Gandhi said we must address natural immunity — as most other countries are doing.

“The thing about natural immunity to any infection is, if that was lost, we’d be dead really early on in life,” she said. “So natural immunity to severe infections can last a long time.”

Gandhi said for the sake of equity and because vaccine supplies are low in much of the world, we should give doses to people who have not had COVID first.

But even if you have had COVID, Gandhi said still get vaccinated when you can.

“Many other places are recommending one dose,” she said. “For example, France has decided on a one-dose strategy if you’ve been naturally infected because it may boost your immune response when the virus is still circulating.”

Gandhi expects the CDC will address rules for COVID survivors in the next six weeks or so as schools resume.

“The CDC is looking at natural infection,” she said. “They’ve gotten enough criticism where people say ‘You’re not looking at this, you’re not commenting on this,’ they are going to comment on it.”

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