U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx speaks about the coronavirus outbreak in the press briefing room at the White House on March 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.
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April 19, 2020 12:40 PM EDT

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation that it’s still unclear how long immunity lasts for those who have recovered from the coronavirus.

“In most infectious diseases, except for HIV, we know that when you get sick and you recover and you develop (an) antibody — that that antibody often confers immunity,” Birx said. “We just don’t know if it’s immunity for a month, immunity for six months, immunity for six years” in the case of COVID-19.

Researchers are still studying whether giving plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to sick patients can allow the antibody to offer protective immunity. And questions still circulate around vaccines and whether the antibodies produced are effective, Birx said.

“These are questions that we still have scientifically,” Birx added.

Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, previously told TIME that he estimates COVID-19 antibodies will remain in a patient’s system for “two to three years,” based on what’s known about other coronaviruses, but also that it’s too early to know for certain.

Birx also spoke on ABC News’ This Week Sunday about those protesting states’ stay-at-home orders. She emphasized the importance of official social distancing guidelines.

“What is your message to these protesters out there right now?” host George Stephanopoulos asked her.

“We’ve been telling the American people all along that they need to really follow state and local guidelines,” Birx said. “We’re not only protecting ourselves but we’re protecting each other when we follow the guidelines.”

Write to Sanya Mansoor at sanya.mansoor@time.com.

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