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Could COVID-19 protective measures impact immunity to other viruses? Expert says it’s not likely

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — It has been more than a year since Americans started social distancing, wearing face coverings and staying home to slow the spread of COVIS-19. The preventive measures have slowed the spread of other viruses too. 

As more people are leave their homes and resume normal activities, some might wonder if they will be more susceptible to these viruses after a year of limited spread. A local infectious disease expert says it’s not likely.

Dr. Armando Meza, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, says antibodies do decrease when an individual is not repeatedly exposed to a common virus. However, he says one year likely will not make a big difference in a body’s level of protection. 

“It’s good that we're not being exposed, but that doesn't mean that will make us completely vulnerable to those viruses that we have had before because our memory cells will still be there and will help us out,” Dr. Meza said. 

Dr. Meza also does not expect any major consequences to children, who likely will not have built antibodies for many common viruses. He said it can be beneficial for children to build those antibodies at a young age, since many viruses can cause more severe reactions in older people. One year, however, should not have a major impact.

“Eventually, the more normal we go back to do a life that we had before COVID, the more likely that those viruses will come back and expose our children as well as adults in the same way,” Dr. Meza said. 

Madeline Ottilie

Madeline Ottilie is a reporter on Good Morning El Paso and co-anchors ABC-7 at noon.

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