There have been reports about people who have caught the COVID-19 once catching it once again even though there have been some medical researches about some people developing antibodies or some form of immunity which could prevent reinfection after their first.
This isn’t always the case as there have been a story of an individual who’s had multiple reinfections of the coronavirus on many occasions which she believes to being a case of reinfection rather than the virus being in a dormant state for a while or something of that sort.
Kaitlyn Romoser a 23 years old laboratory researcher who first tested positive to the COVID-19 back in March but then shrugged it off in a matter of few days before getting reinfected when she visited Denmark and again when she traveled to Florida with her dad.
While she believes this to being a case of reinfection, the fact that a good footprint of her illness not being well kept on track couldn’t prove that point even though she said she would have loved to have a proof that her claims about reinfection multiple times is true.
“It would be nice to have proof,” said Romoser. “I’ve literally been straight up called a liar, because people don’t want to believe that it’s possible to be reinfected. Why would I lie about being sick?”
Despite the vaccines coming up and being distributed to the general public already, the fact that there isn’t a good track record about reinfection might be an alarming situation as suggestion points to this being much more common than expected.
Scientists have officially confirmed in their researches that its highly possible for people to contract the COVID-19 more than once but these set of people were thought of as not being so common.
In fact, there were less than 50 cases reported throughout the world according to global reinfection tracker. Just five have been substantiated in the U.S., including two detected in California in late January.
One might just assume the insignificance of the number but Scientists are beginning to understand that the number is low due to the fact that there are limited number of labs in the US for example equipped enough to test samples or perform genetic sequencing in order to detect these cases of reinfection which could help to determine how big the number really is.
A KHN review of surveillance efforts finds that many U.S. states aren’t rigorously tracking or investigating suspected cases of reinfection.
I predict that we are missing cases of reinfection.
KHN sent queries about reinfection surveillance to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Of 24 responses, fewer than half provided details about suspected or confirmed reinfection cases. Where officials said they’re actively monitoring for reinfection, they have found far more potential cases than previously anticipated.
While the initial number is very low, health officials are currently investigating some 700 cases which meets the criteria of a possible reinfection while there are dozens other who are awaiting genetic sequencing with one case already confirmed.
In the state of Colorado, the case if reinfections is as low as 0.1% of the entire positive cases and with more than 396,000 cases reported, there are about 400 people who might have contracted the coronavirus more than once.
In Minnesota, officials have investigated more than 150 cases of suspected reinfection, but they lack the genetic material to confirm a diagnosis, a spokesperson said.
In Nevada, where the first U.S. case of Covid-19 reinfection was identified last summer, Mark Pandori, director of the state public health lab, said there’s no doubt cases are going undetected.
“I predict that we are missing cases of reinfection,” he said. “They are very difficult to ascertain, so you need specialized teams to do that work, or a core lab.”
There is a difference between the long-haul COVID-19 which is a situation whereby there is a trigger by the original infection causing a debilitating symptoms that could be on for months while viral particles are being detected upon testing. In the cases of reinfections, people who have once had the virus basically get it again with a different strain of the coronavirus and to make matters worst, such reinfections are said to occur regularly with four other coronavirus which is prevalent among humans leading to common colds.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages further investigation for possible cases of reinvention whenever someone tests positive for the COVID-19 at least within 90 days after after an original infection (or at least 45 days for “highly suspicious” cases). Confirmation of reinfection requires genetic sequencing of paired samples from each episode to tell whether the genomes involved are different.
The fact that not so many genetic sequencing laboratories are available just yet in the country, this can affect the correlation of researches on reinfections. The genetic sequencing is basically comparing the fingerprint of a specific virus in order to compare it with other strains.
Jeff Zients, head of the federal Covid task force, noted late last month that the U.S. ranks 43rd in the world in genomic sequencing.
Not so many positive cases of the coronavirus samples have been sequenced and there have been efforts to increase the number as CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated that there have been efforts to increase the practice by tenfold which saw an increase from 251 sequences the week of Jan. 10th to a whooping 2,238 the week of Jan. 24th
The agency is working with private companies, states and academic labs to ramp up to 6,000 sequences per week by mid-February.
Washington’s state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, Dr. Scott Lindquist, said officials have prioritized genetic sequencing at the state laboratory, with plans to begin genotyping 5 percent of all samples collected. That will allow officials to sort through those nearly 700 potential reinfections, Lindquist said. More important, the effort will also help signal the presence of significantly mutated forms of the coronavirus, known as variants, that could affect how easily the virus spreads and, perhaps, how sick Covid-19 makes people.
“Those two areas, reinfection and variants, may cross paths,” he said. “We wanted to be in front of it, not behind it.”
What about Immunity against the Coronavirus
Since there have been a number of reinfection cases since the beginning of in-depth researches about the coronavirus especially with new mutant strains, the question about whether people do have a long-term natural immunity against the virus after being originally infected or if the vaccine campaign can help boost that remains under questioning.
There have been an earlier study that showed that immunity against the coronavirus isn’t for the long-term whereas there are researchers who have recently found some antibodies as well as memory cells which could persist in those who have the infection for more than 8 months.
“We actually don’t know” the marker that would signal immunity, said Dr. Jason Goldman, an infectious diseases expert at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. “We don’t have the test you could perform to say yes or no, you could be infected.”
The best is to stay safe as there are possibilities of reinfection for patients who had contracted the virus earlier on as Dr. Sanchez Edgar who is an infectious diseases physician at Orlando Health in Florida stressed the need to be vigilant in order to curb the spread and reinfection.
“A lot of patients ask, ‘How long do I have to worry about getting Covid again?’” he said. “I literally tell them this: ‘You are probably safe for a few weeks, maybe even up to a couple of months, but beyond that, it’s really unclear.’”
The message is similar for the wider society, said Dr. Bill Messer, an expert in viral genetics at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, who has been pondering the cultural psychology of the Covid-19 response. Evidence suggests there may not be a clear-cut return to normal.
“The idea that we will end this pandemic by beating this coronavirus, I don’t think that’s actually the way it’s going to happen,” he said. “I think that it’s more likely that we’re going to learn how to be comfortable living with this new virus circulating among us.”