Can you get COVID-19 twice?

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota has seen more than 8,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with over 7,000 recovered patients.

The U.S. has surpassed the 4 million mark in coronavirus cases. As the numbers climb, those who have recovered from the virus may be asking one question.

“Can you get COVID-19 twice? The evidence, we don’t have any evidence that that is definitely occurring. Could it occur? Yes,” Dr. Wendell Hoffman said.

It’s a simple question, with a complex answer.
Infectious disease physician Dr. Wendell Hoffman says most COVID-19 patients will develop elevated antibodies– or proteins that fight infections.
But recent studies have found those antibody levels drop after 2 to 3 months.

“The question is, what does that mean? Does that mean that they lose their immunity? Not necessarily,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman draws comparisons to whooping cough, where antibody levels also decrease over time, which is why the Tdap vaccine is given to people throughout their life. He says initial COVID-19 vaccine studies are showing promising results in terms of generating antibodies, which is similar to what vaccines like Tdap provide.

“What we have seen are people who have had COVID-19 who get better and then who come back in for another reason. And then when they’re retested, they’re still positive,” Dr. Wendell Hoffman said.

He says some nasal swab tests continue to be positive for weeks to sometimes even months, though evidence suggest the virus stops shedding around day 9 or 10.

“That doesn’t mean that they have active COVID disease. It means that it may just be a particles of the virus. What some people have called a remnant RNA that still are present and are being picked up by these very powerful PCR tests,” Hoffman said.

He says the bottom line is even if you’ve already recovered from COVID-19, all precautions should still be taken.

“My recommendation would be, nothing changes. If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past, because of the uncertainties, I think you need to continue to do all the mitigating strategies that we’ve talked about for months now,” Hoffman said.


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