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Infected with COVID-19: Is Natural Immunity better than Vaccination?

Getting infected with COVID-19 was a personal choice for former basketball player Pieter Loridon. He decided not to get vaccinated, but he did not want to suffer the consequences of that decision in terms of his ability to move freely within the country and outside of it. As a result, he purposely got infected with COVID-19 instead. 

The weekend before deciding to do so, Pieter Loridon gathered information by creating a poll on his Twitter account. He asked if unvaccinated individuals who are considered to have a good health status can build the necessary immunity against COVID-19 if they are infected with the omicron variant.

On the day after he posted the poll, he let his Facebook and Instagram followers know that he had proceeded to get infected with COVID-19 by choice. To do so, he obtained a saliva specimen from a COVID-19 positive patient and inserted it into his nose.

The restrictions for unvaccinated individuals pushed him to do such an act. He has plans to travel outside Belgium to attend to his business matters. However, he will be unable to do so if he cannot obtain a valid Covid Safe Ticket

Pieter Loridon, who infected himself with COVID-19
Pieter Loridon, Former Professional Basketball Player

Getting Infected with COVID-19 on Purpose is Deplorable

Marc Van Ranst, a Belgian doctor and virologist, expressed his opposition against the performance and promotion of such actions. He stated that Pieter Loridon was “totally irresponsible”, especially since the reach that Piter Loridon has is wide. He should use his influence responsibly and refrain from possibly encouraging them to do the same. 

Dr. Van Ranst also said that individuals cannot be sure of the viral load that they can get if they use a specimen with COVID-19 and infect themselves with it. There have already been reported deaths after holding parties just for the purpose of getting COVID-19. To get infected with COVID-19 does not just mean building antibodies against the disease. It also puts the individual at risk of the complications that the COVID-19 virus can bring to one’s physical health.

Wouter Beke, Flemish Health Minister, shares the same sentiment as Dr. Van Rast and he also called out Pieter Loridon on Twitter. He said that the healthcare system is well-prepared to provide the services that Pieter Loridon would need if ever his disease progressed to a severe state. But, to burden the healthcare workers by getting infected with COVID-19 on purpose is disrespectful. 

The healthcare system has been met with numerous challenges, one after the other, over the past two years. Healthcare workers have not ceased to serve citizens as best as they can, despite the workload, health risk, and burnout. It would be insensitive to disregard their plight by doing the very thing that healthcare workers have been trying to prevent and solve for so long.

COVID-19 For Sale

Pieter Loridon is not the only one who has chosen to become infected with COVID-19.

Last year, an individual from the Netherlands was put in prison for running a website that sells specimens of individuals who have tested for COVID-19. The now defunct website, jaikwilcorona.nl, offered corona kits priced at 33,50 euros each. 

Interested customers can easily place their orders through the website and infect themselves with the specimen upon receipt of the product. They will have no trouble infecting themselves because everything that they need to know and use is already included in the kit. 

The use of the kit, and supposed eventual infection and recovery from COVID-19, will give unvaccinated individuals the privilege of enjoying the nightlife and other activities that need a Covid Safe Ticket. 

The individual behind the website was taken into custody by the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) for a brief period. He was eventually released, but the investigation regarding this matter will still proceed. Officials are gathering information regarding the number of kits sold and the effectiveness of the product with regards to getting infected with COVID-19.

In response, the Dutch Health Ministry similarly opposed such activities. It is dangerous to get sick with COVID-19, and many people are still dying from the disease. Those who have lost their loved ones due to COVID-19 and healthcare workers are still up against the challenge of the pandemic. It is unacceptable to belittle their difficulties and put others at risk by promoting these actions.

Immunity to COVID-19 After Natural Infection

Studies have shown that immunity can be built against COVID-19 after infection with the virus. 

Antibodies, helper T cells, killer T cells, and B cells are components of the immune system that provide protection against diseases and help prevent progression to severe cases. These all have been identified in individuals who were infected with COVID-19. 

How long the protection lasts is still being studied. Some studies show that protection after COVID-19 infection lasts for 3-5 months, while some say that it can be effective until 8 months after infection. But, it remains clear that the protection obtained from natural infection does not last forever. 

Despite the immunity developed after natural infection, vaccination against COVID-19 is still important at this stage of the pandemic. The COVID-19 virus still causes deaths and will continue to do so until it can be contained enough globally to be treated as an endemic disease. 

Getting vaccinated remains as an effective way to protect one’s self and others from the possible life-threatening health consequences of the virus. 

Regulations of the Covid Safe Ticket for Individuals Infected with COVID-19

The Covid Safe Ticket remains a requirement for individuals in Belgium. Individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 can have the same privileges as vaccinated individuals.

Current regulations show that a Covid Safe Ticket can be issued to individuals who have recovered from the disease and have undergone quarantine. A positive result on a PCR test should be uploaded to the mobile application. This will entitle the individual to a valid Covid Safe Ticket 11 days after the COVID-19 test has been taken, since they will be considered recovered and non-infectious by then and can resume their normal activities outside quarantine. 

A Covid Safe Ticket obtained because of infection with COVID-19 will only be valid for 180 days from the test date. Individuals who obtain another positive COVID-19 test result within 90 days of the first test are only entitled to one certificate because these results mean infection with the same variant. On the other hand, individuals who obtain another positive result beyond 90 days of the first test can receive two recovery certificates since this indicates infection with a different variant. 

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