As millions of Americans struggle to recover from COVID and millions more scramble for the protection offered by vaccines, U.S. health officials may be overlooking an unsettling subgroup of survivors: those who get infected more than once! Identifying how common reinfection is among people who contracted COVID as well as how quickly they become vulnerable and why carries important implications for our understanding of immunity and the nation’s efforts to devise an effective vaccination program.
The first confirmed case of reinfection was reported in Hong Kong in late August, and 46 others were reported over the next few months, along with thousands of suspected cases. People with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, may continue to test positive for several months without being sick or infectious. A reinfection is confirmed when testing shows each virus’ genetic makeup is different to a degree which cannot be explained through in-vivo evolution.
Take a look at the statistics on this reinfection tracker, which is updated on a regular basis! As we continue our journey we need to maintain infection prevention strategies that appear to be working: facial masking, social distancing, avoiding large groups of people, hand washing, and of course getting vaccinated!
Stay the course, stay well, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!