NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Imagine having COVID-19, recovering, and then getting it again. For a 25-year-old man in Nevada, that’s exactly what happened. But how common is reinfection? According to Dr. David Aronoff, the Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at VUMC, it’s exceedingly rare, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from these cases of reinfection.
“So far globally, there have been just a little over 20 cases reported that appear to represent reinfection in people who have recovered from initial infection and then were discovered later either to asymptomatically to have gotten reinfected or to have symptoms or even die from COVID-19. That’s in contrast to the fact that we’ve documented over 38 million people who have been infected with the SARS CoV-2 virus around the world.”
The 25-year-old man in Nevada that has been infected with COVID twice got more sick the second time around. Generally, in most cases of reinfection, this is not the case. The overwhelming majority of people seem to be immune after contracting the virus, but knowing how long that immunity lasts will be key.
Dr. Aronoff told News 2, “Well, there’s a lot we still need to learn. It’s important for people to know that the longest anyone has survived beyond COVID-19 is 10 months or so. This is October, and the disease basically began late December/ early January.”
Knowing how long we keep our natural immunity after contracting the SARS CoV-2 virus is crucial, and it’s something that scientists are researching.
“The big question we don’t know the answer to is how long do we stay protected from reinfection or stay immune to the virus after we’ve recovered.”
But how do you know if you have been reinfected? The symptoms of COVID-19 can also linger, which can make things complicated.
“The other thing that’s important to note is that when people have symptomatic COVID-19 they may be left with symptoms or health problems for a long time beyond when they are no longer contagious. And that does not necessarily mean they are continuing to be reinfected or still shedding virus.”
Dr. Aronoff recommends seeking out a medical professional if you experience a return of symptoms or new symptoms after recovering from COVID-19.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )