Can a cured person get COVID-19 again? Here's what you should know
Some reports have emerged about people who recovered from COVID-19, but later tested positive for the highly-contagious virus again.
The coronavirus pandemic has engulfed the world, leading to devastation and significant loss of lives. Scientists are racing to find a vaccine for the disease called COVID-19 which is dangerous because humans have no innate immunity to it. But people who contracted this deadly virus and managed to recover later, can they get it again? Let’s find out.
According to Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus may be “reactivating” in people who had been cured of the illness.
According to CDC, about 51 patients classed as having been cured in South Korea have tested positive again. Rather than being infected again, the virus may have been reactivated in these people, given they tested positive again shortly after being released from quarantine, said Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CDC.
“While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” Jeong said.
“There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.” He said that the Korean CDC will conduct an epidemiological probe into the cases.
A patient is deemed fully recovered when two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval show negative results.
South Korea was one of the earliest countries to see a large-scale coronavirus outbreak, but the country has seen just 200 deaths. As of Thursday, South Korea had 10,423 virus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University tally.
Fear of re-infection in recovered patients is also growing in China, where the virus first emerged last December, after reports that some tested positive again -- and even died from the disease -- after apparently recovering and leaving hospital, reports say.
Two cases outside of China were reported where people who had seemingly recovered and tested negative, began to have symptoms again weeks later and were found to be positive when re-tested.
There’s not much known why this happens. According to experts, these scenarios need more study, but are unlikely to reflect re-infection. A positive test after recovery could be detecting left over virus that may still be present but is not causing infection, say experts.
For those people who became positive after recovery, it may be that the infection was lingering in their bodies at lower levels and then re-emerged. Or it could be because of inconsistencies in test results.
The rapid global spread of the virus has recently seen the focus shift to patients who contract the virus but display few or atypical symptoms. These type of cases are causing particular concern in China.
But there’s plenty of reason to hope that a vaccine can be developed, and, clinical trials have already started in various parts of the world.