A pandemic that’s changed life as we know it. Millions of people infected, and it’s taking the lives of thousands each day. In the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, there’s only one person who’s fully immune to the virus. You.
How can someone be immune to COVID-19? What would life be like if you were the only person immune? And could you be the key to stopping the pandemic?
You’re free to visit your family, friends, and ditch the masks. But please, don’t stop washing your hands. Life would be a lot easier if you were immune to COVID-19. You wouldn’t have to worry about infecting other people, or be afraid of catching it yourself.
Before all of that, the biggest problem would be finding out if you are immune. We’ve developed ways to test for the virus, but not if someone is immune to it. How could you know if you’re immune to COVID-19?
If you were truly immune to the virus, there would be no way of knowing at first. You could still be prone to infection, and just never come across the virus. Or, you could have it right now and just not show any symptoms.
One way you could find out is with an antibody test. It works by checking your blood for antibodies. Antibodies are our bodies’ microscopic defenders. They’re proteins that locate and bind themselves to foreign viruses and neutralize them.
The test would have to find antibodies that could specifically block the virus from attaching to the body’s cells. But, once word gets around that you’re the only person immune to the virus, you’re going to have to make an important, life-changing decision.
You will be a hot topic among doctors and researchers. Multiple institutions around the world will likely compete to research you, your blood, and your genetics. Do you offer up your body to help develop a vaccine? Would you be treated like the researcher’s golden child? Or like a lab rat?
If you did make the choice to devote yourself to research, you’d likely be taken into isolation. It wouldn’t be a quick trip to the doctor’s office. You’ll have to be kept away from the company of the outside world. Because not keeping you safe from danger would be too much of a risk.
Researchers would need samples of your bone marrow and blood to narrow down what makes you immune. Your plasma could be used to help treat patients with COVID-19 or prevent infections.
There are a lot of factors to test for. Everything comes into play here, from your unique genetics to your lifestyle. It could be a combination of the two that gives you your COVID-superpowers. The entire course of developing a vaccine can last years. With your help, the process would be accelerated, but it would ultimately take a lot of work and a lot of time.
But, it’s still your body, and you do have the choice to refuse helping out. If you didn’t assist, well, you probably wouldn’t spend your days in peace and quiet. People might shun you for your decision, or try to change your mind. Unfortunately, there’s no one else in the world to go to, so you’d be the focus of all the backlash.
Even if a vaccine stops the pandemic, the decision not to help out could still change the rest of your life. It could put a negative spotlight on you and everything you do from then on.
So what do you think? If you were immune to COVID-19, would you help vaccine research? It would be a long process, but you could save millions of lives. Since most of us probably aren’t immune to the virus, what would happen if you had COVID-19?
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- “5 charts that tell the story of vaccines today”. 2020. World Economic Forum.
- “The innate and adaptive immune systems”. Institute For Quality And Efficiency In Health Care (Iqwig).