Is reinfection of COVID-19 still possible?

A coronavirus-shaped installation that has been put up by Rachakonda Police at Uppal Circle. The installation seeks to create awareness on social distancing and staying safe. — Photo: Anand Dharmana

Hyderabad: Can one get re-infected after recovering from COVID-19? The prospect of those who have recovered from COVID-19 getting re-infected has become a major concern for general public and public health authorities not only in Telangana but across the country.

The general rule is that once a person tests positive for an ailment, the body starts developing antibodies and over a period of time, they develop immunity that will prevent the resurgence of the disease.

However, is this true with SARS-CoV2 virus? “At this moment, we can’t say anything for certain. I personally believe that once patients recover from COVID-19, they should have immunity for at least some time. However, we can’t say this for certain and we need more data related to this,” says Superintendent, Chest Hospital, Dr Mahaboob Khan.

On Friday, South Korea reported that 91 recovered patients have once again tested positive for the novel Coronavirus disease. There are several such instances across the world that have prompted fears among physicians that the SARS-CoV2 could remain active in patients for much longer time.


Had Kothagudem DSP relapsed?

The State health officials are yet to ascertain why a senior police official from Kothagudem, who had recovered from COVID-19 and tested negative, had to be again admitted after he tested positive for the infection.

Persons who have recovered but then tested positive again were not examples of re-infection. They could be cases where the infection was lingering but the tests were not able to detect, senior public health officials here pointed out.

“Usually, people do not get re-infection so soon after testing negative. We are yet to reach to a conclusion on why this patient’s samples tested negative and later positive. Since COVID-19 is a novel disease, the country definitely needs more data,” Dr Mahaboob said.

Senior doctors also point out that there has been no concerted effort to understand the longevity of immunity among those who have recovered from COVID-19.

False negatives and Coronavirus

Health officials here said that the present Coronavirus diagnostic tests, which are PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) based, could give false negative results. This means, people with active Coronavirus can test negative for the disease. “We don’t have much data on the rate of false negative tests. They are still being carried out by various laboratories,” doctors said.

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