Can You Get Sick With COVID-19 Twice?

The public debate has changed to face the fact that many people have and will contract COVID-19, the respiratory ailment brought on by SARS-CoV-2, as novel coronavirus cases continue to rise in the U.S. That has many people wondering if you can contract the same infection twice.

Re-infection has been documented in cases in Ecuador, Hong Kong, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong. In the United States, “cases of reinfection with COVID-19 have been reported, but remain rare,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a case report that was published in the Lancet Infectious Disease Journal in October, a 25-year-old Nevada male was described as having COVID-19 and making a fast recovery. A month or so later, he experienced worse symptoms and ended up in the emergency room due to breathing problems. He was just the fifth confirmed case of reinfection in the entire world and has subsequently recovered.

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What does mean a reinfection with COVID-19?

Reinfection describes a person who contracted the virus once, got better, and then contracted it again. According to what is known about comparable viruses, some reinfections are anticipated, according to the CDC.

According to infectious disease specialist Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, reinfections are frequent with other coronaviruses, such as those that cause the common cold, but “they generally occur after a year or two” of being unwell. “They typically don’t cause serious illness.” He notes that “just a handful of times” have COVID-19 reinfections occurred.

Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, adds that many experts think instances in which people test positive for the second time may also be the result of testing errors. This may involve false positives and negatives brought on by tainted samples, mistakes made by people, or excessively sensitive tests.

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What is the duration of COVID-19 immunity?

This field of study is still developing. It’s crucial to first review antibodies and their function in immunity. According to the Food and Drug Administration, antibodies are proteins produced by your white blood cells to combat organisms that cause infections, such as bacteria and viruses (FDA). They can also aid in reducing the risk of contracting certain diseases in the future, including SARS-CoV-2.

IgM and IgG antibodies, which can take days to weeks to develop in the body after exposure, are developed in almost everyone with a healthy immune system who contracts the coronavirus. The FDA claims that it is “unclear” how long COVID-19 immunity lasts, although a recent study offers some encouraging information.

The study examined antibodies in 185 COVID-19 patients but has not yet been peer reviewed or published in a scholarly journal. According to Shane Crotty, Ph.D., a professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and co-author of the study, “We observed that the body’s immune system remembers the novel coronavirus for at least eight months, which suggests to us that the immune system can remember the virus for years.” “Most likely, for a sizable period of time, many people will be safeguarded from a recurrence incidence of COVID-19.”

The study also discovered some heterogeneity in participants’ immune systems. According to study co-author and professor in the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology Alessandro Sette, Dr.Biol.Sci., “Most participants exhibited a quantifiable robust immunological memory while a few individuals did not.” Although we can’t be certain just yet, it’s possible that certain people, at least those with extremely poor immunological memories, could be vulnerable to reinfection.

However, it is unclear why a small number of individuals might get COVID-19 twice. Thomas Russo, M.D., professor of medicine and director of infectious diseases at the University of Buffalo in New York, says, “We don’t know if they just didn’t have a good immune response earlier or if they have some sort of genetic quirk that makes them more susceptible.”

It’s possible to get COVID-19 twice, but it seems to be very rare.

Dr. Adjala highlights the spectrum of immunity. He explains, “It’s not that you have full immunity or none at all; it’s usually someplace in between. “People may gain immunity to serious infections or the requirement for hospitalization.”

According to William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and an expert in infectious diseases, “With COVID-19, there are still a lot of blank pages and things we’re learning about.” This covers the signs, symptoms, side effects, medications, and vaccination response of COVID-19.Dr. Russo advises patients to put on a mask, wash their hands, and try to distance themselves from others. That’s effective.

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