As with anything that is new, there’s still much to learn about the virus that causes COVID-19. But as the world’s scientists scramble to know more, it seems that reinfections might be possible, as evidenced by South Korea.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed that 111 individuals who have fully recovered from the coronavirus tested positive again after being released from quarantine.
Health officials theorized that the cause for the relapse might be due to the virus being ‘reactivated’ instead of true reinfection, citing that the subjects had only been released from quarantine for a short period of time.
However, KCDC Director-General Jung Eun-kyeong remained open to all possibilities and said that tests on reinfected patients where underway.
In an article by TIME, experts were skeptical of the ‘reactivated’ theory, saying that antibodies remain days after the initial onset of the virus. Patients in South Korea must test negative twice in under 24 hours in order to be released from quarantine.
David Hui, a respiratory medicine expert who also worked on the SARS outbreak, chalked it up to a false negative.
‘It may be because of the quality of the specimen that they took and may be because the test was not so sensitive’, said Hui.
Oh Myoung-don, a professor of internal medicine who also serves as part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) technical advisory group, theorizes that the tests picked up the leftover genetic material of the virus.
‘Even after the virus is dead, the nucleic acid (RNA) fragments still remain in the cells’.
Speaking on behalf of a population that continues to endure a month-long quarantine, here’s hoping the latter theories prove to be true. The last thing we need is the coronavirus evolving into more hellish than it already is.
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