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Can you be re-infected with COVID? What we know and don’t


You won’t know if a second occurrence of symptoms is a new infection or an old infection unless you’ve been checked several times.

Amanda Capritto / CNET

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, experts have grappled with the question of whether a patient will recover from COVID-19. can get sick again. Although coronavirus reinfection is rare, there are a number of reported cases that appear to have occurred. Scientists are particularly interested in these cases because they can teach us a lot about How coronavirus makes people sick, as well as way Vaccine can help end a pandemic.

There are also practical considerations. For example, if you have recovered from COVID-19, do you need to wear a mask when going out in public? Should you vaccination When is one available or won’t you need one now?

Like many questions surrounding coronavirus, there is still a lot we don’t know yet. That’s why experts almost always recommend extreme caution when making decisions that could affect your health or the well-being of others.

Here, we’ll teach you what doctors know and, most importantly, what they don’t know about COVID-19 reinfection, including what to look out for and steps you can take to help ensure protect yourself. This article is intended for general overview and is not intended as a source of medical advice. If you think you might have COVID-19, Here’s how to find a test site nearby.


Patients are registered by an out-of-facility doctor’s appointment and are not allowed indoors until they are notified that a doctor is ready to see them. Free N95 masks have been given to those on the verge of entry.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Should I worry about reinfection with COVID-19?

In most confirmed reinfection cases, the first patient has a positive result SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is then negative before the second test is positive. Although several dozen cases have been reported, they represent only a very small percentage of the more than 45 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In other words, although reinfection can occur in very limited circumstances, it is not a common case. Dr Onyema Ogbuagu, an infectious disease specialist at Yale Medicine, told Heathline: “Practical experience shows that reinfection is very rare, but it will be interesting to see if there is the emergence of the virus with impaired immunity next year or not.

Translation: It really isn’t anything you need to worry about at the moment.


Recovery from COVID-19 may require a bedside pillow.

Angela Lang / CNET

How do I know if I have reinfected or if the COVID never goes away?

Some people who feel sick weeks or even months after they test positive for COVID-19 may still experience symptoms from the initial infection, also known as a “prolonged illness”.

In other cases, doctors performed genetic analysis on virus samples taken from the patient during the first infection and then again on the second. In the event that those samples showed a significant genetic difference, the scientists concluded that they were separate, unrelated infections.

Unless you have been tested extensively, you probably won’t know for sure whether recurrence of COVID-19 is an actual reinfection or an example of a persistent coronavirus infection.


In the waiting room of the doctor’s office, there were signs on every chair asking the patient not to sit.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Are you better or worse the second time you got a COVID-19?

Again, you will need the COVID test results to determine if your symptoms are related to your original infection or are they new.

With most viruses, the second infection is usually milder than the first because the body has produced antibodies against it. However, this is not always the case, and there is still much more to SARS-CoV-2 that doctors are continuing to reveal. With some viruses, already having antibodies to the virus can actually make the second infection worse. Dengue fever and Zika virus are familiar examples.

For most patients who have had COVID-19 more than once, symptoms are usually mild or incomplete when the second episode of the virus occurs. But some patients’ second illness is actually worse than the first infection. It is too early to know for certain which response is more typical, plus too few cases to study.

015-sick-cold-flu-coronavirus-medicine-kleenex-at home-recovering-symptoms

It’s hard to say whether symptoms of COVID-19 such as a dry cough, loss of taste and smell get worse or better with a second infection.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Am I immune to COVID-19 if I have had it once?

The immune system is a complex network of organs, tissues and cells that work together to protect the body against disease. It does not have an on / off switch. Instead, there are different levels of immunity one may have to fight a particular pathogen or bacteria.

Doctors and scientists have so far avoided making any strong claims about long-term immunity to COVID-19. According to the epidemiologists, it is unlikely to re-infect in the first three months after testing positive for the virus.

How does reinfection of COVID-19 affect potential vaccines?

We won’t really know until one or more approved vaccines and is widely distributed, but doctors hope that the coronavirus vaccine will provide people with at least enough immunity to continue a normal life once enough people have been vaccinated. That’s because in the majority of cases, patients with COVID-19 so far do not appear to have been infected with the virus a second time, which has left scientists hoping that a vaccine will work.

In fact, cases of coronavirus reinfection can help researchers better understand how best to distribute and use vaccines. For example, it may be necessary to vaccinate people regularly, to strengthen immunity, until the virus is completely contained.


Signage at Whole Foods in Asheville, North Carolina explains that they require an inner mask and they will provide a mask to the customer if needed.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Do I still have to wear a mask or have social distance if I have COVID-19?

Every public health organization, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, recommends the same set of safety precautions for everyone regardless of whether they are have ever had COVID-19. (The only exception is for active infections, which require more stringent procedures.) That means masks, away from society, washing hands, surface cleaning regularly – everything the experts have told us to do since the beginning of the pandemic.

For specific details about that and beyond, Here’s how to clean your home and car, where to buy the most popular mask styles and how to enjoy a restaurant meal more safely during a pandemic.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or health advice. Always consult your doctor or other qualified medical provider for any questions you may have about your health condition or health goals.

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