Lots of questions have been raised whether or not someone can be infected again after being cleared of all infections of COVID-19 especially when cases of reinfections sprung up in both China and Japan, although this can be traced down to different reasons.
Studies are still ongoing to get to the roots of this deadly disease, some which could lead to finding the cure but at the moment, the not-so-known nature of this virus is not helping scientists as they can only count on the experiences with other viruses to deal with the global outbreak. China has been praised by W.H.O. for devising an effective plan for containing the virus which has spread across the world including Europe, America, and also the Middle East, with Iran being the most affected country in the region.
The most pressing issue regarding the coronavirus outbreak of has been about those who had it for the first time now getting it for the second time and what it means for immunity. Experts have come out to reassure the public that the virus will develop immunity and that it is rare to get an infectious disease again.
While that statements have been made on how one can be immune to the virus after recovery, people are now scared after reinfection cases were confirmed in China and Japan last month. Most of these assumptions are made based on the experiences with other viruses as confirmed by Prof Jon Cohen of Brighton and Sussex Medical School. “The answer is that we simply don’t know (about the reinfection) yet because we don’t have an antibody test for the infection, although we will have soon”. He concluded by saying “However, it is very likely based on other viral infections. Once a person has had the infection, they will generally be immune and won’t get it again.”
Generally with diseases, there is normally some short-term immunity even if it won’t be for long-term.
What are the likeliest causes of coronavirus reinfection?
Ever since the cases of reinfection have emerged in China, Japan, and Korea – although the Korean patient has been released after having tested negative five times – scientists all over the world have given these following causes for cases of reinfection.
Cases of reinfection may occur if there are testing errors from either false negatives which resulted in early discharge of the patients or false positives. These errors can also be traced down to human error while conducting the test. Contaminated test samples and oversensitive acid test that detects strands of virus are also some of the likeliest causes of the reinfection.
Also, a sick person’s immune system naturally develops antibodies which are supposed to protect the body from contracting the illness after they’ve recovered. Although in cases where immunity wears off, reinfection still shouldn’t be as quick as a few days or weeks, according to director of Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health.
He further explained by saying “If you get an infection, your immune system is revved up against the virus. To get reinfected again when you’re in that situation would be quite unusual unless your immune system was not functioning right.”
What’s also likely is that while still carrying little fragments of the virus, people are released from the hospitals with claims that they won’t spread this disease because they are now carrying low levels of the virus. These claims have been confirmed by Chinese authorities who have come out to say none of the patients who tested positive again have infected others.
Sequencing the genomes of the initial and subsequent viruses that circulated in patients is the best way to prove infection, according to Dr. Clifford Lane, one of the U.S. experts in a W.H.O. delegation that was sent to China last month. He also stated that the difference between the initial and the subsequent viruses would suggest if the virus had mutated enough to invade the patient’s antibodies, thereby resulting in a reinfection.
The coronavirus reinfection cases are still in the early stages and that means scientists are learning new things every day. We could wake up to a new development about the virus tomorrow, and that’s to show much is still unknown about it and in cases of reinfection, they are so rare that the true cause of apparent cases might be too early discover.