Why Some Coronavirus Patients Get Sicker Than Others? this could be one of the most frequently asked questions since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, people around the world have heard the message that older and chronically ill people are most likely to die from COVID-19. But that is far from a complete picture of who is at risk of life-threatening disease. In other words, it depends on how our immune system responses to the virus.
Variation in immune responses between people is due to much more than age or chronic disease. The immune system is a function of the communities that brought us up and the environments with which we interact every day. Its foundation is laid by genetics and early-life exposure to the world around us—from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Its response varies on the basis of income, housing, jobs, and access to health care.
According to Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Global Communicable Diseases at Northwestern University: “that’s not the virus; that’s the host.”
A unique and unfortunate feature of COVID-19 is that some patients who are starting to feel better suddenly take a turn for the worst. The downturn usually comes between five to seven days into the illness.
This is a pivotal time where there is a delicate balance between a good immune response and a damaging one, according to Kirsten Hokeness professor and chair of the Department of Science and Technology at Bryant University and an expert in immunology. “If the virus can be controlled and the immune response can subside, individuals will begin to recover. If the scales are tipped, and a damaging immune attack begins, this is when things get critical.”
“Viruses that are aggressive or pathogenic, like COVID-19, test the immune capacity,” professor Hokeness said. Sometimes, the immune system fights with a lot of vigor, and manages not to cause damage to the person’s body. That usually takes a little over a week, on average.
“Around week two is when the immune system should be resolving, and the virus should be just about cleared,” Hokeness further explains. “For those that have underlying conditions, or who are older and whose immune system may not be functioning properly, they may not be able to handle this balance. There may initially be some relief, but then the virus escapes and persists and the immune response goes somewhat out of control.”
We can not change the date of our birth, but we definitely can make all the effort to boost our immune system to protect us even if we should be infected.