Can you get reinfected? 2% of recovered coronavirus patients in South Korea test positive for the disease

south korea test ew a b b e c ecfe a e de
Credit: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP

In South Korea, health officials are trying to solve a mystery: why 163 people who recovered from coronavirus have retested positive, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

That raises the question: can you get reinfected with coronavirus?

In South Korea, the proportion of cases that retest positive is low — of the 7,829 people who have recovered from coronavirus there, 2.1% retested positive, the KCDC said.

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For now, the most likely explanation of why people are retesting positive seems to be that the test is picking up remnants of the virus.

The KCDC has re-investigated three cases from the same family where patients tested positive after recovering, Kwon says.

Related article:  Viewpoint: We'll learn a lot from the coronavirus outbreak, but it will be 'paid for in blood'

In each of these cases, scientists tried to incubate the virus but weren’t able to — that told them there was no live virus present.

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The KCDC plans to test 400 specimens from people who have been infected and recovered to see how much — if any — immunity having Covid-19 might give people. Kwon says those tests may take several weeks.

In the end, [KCDC deputy director Kwon Joon-wook] said, it comes down to this: “We don’t know much about Covid-19.”

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