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New Research: Reinfected Coronavirus Patients Are Far Less Contagious

A new South Korean study reveals encouraging news based on contract tracing of "re-positive" cases.
Business woman working from home wearing protective mask

As medical and public health experts rush to learn the ins and outs of the coronavirus, there appears to be some good news emerging from South Korea. A new report from the Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) strongly suggests that patients testing positive for the coronavirus a second time are far less contagious than those who contract COVID-19 the first time.

Of nearly 800 individuals who had been in touch with patients who had a second case of the coronavirus, less than 1% of them got the disease again. And all of those individuals who tested positive? Each had a history of contact with a religious group or a confirmed case in their family.

Among the more challenging components of the coronavirus is the realtime learning of specific details about the contagion at the same time we are trying to figure out the best way to treat and react to it in a manner that saves the most lives. It's as if we are collectively trying to win a game with life or death consequences while at the same time not knowing what the rules of the game are.

We've seen encouraging news about trial tests for both therapeutic medicine (Remdesivivir) and vaccines, one question that has remained is whether or not contracting the coronavirus makes one immune from getting the contagion again. The Korean report focuses on individuals who did contract the coronavirus again but found the disease spread from these individuals to be remarkably low.

This KCDC study focuses on nearly 300 cases of "re-positives," or individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 a second time. It then traced brought nearly 800 individuals who had been in contact with these patients and found that there were 27 new cases of coronavirus. But of those, 24 of them had the virus before, concluding that only three new patents got the coronavirus from the nearly 800 people in touch with the "re-positives." And each of those three new patients also had a history of contact with a religious group or a confirmed case in their family.

To be clear, only three of the 790 individuals that were in contact with 290 cases of people who got the coronavirus a second time also contracted the COVID-19 contagion. And because each of the three had other reasons for which they could have contracted the virus, this is understandably being viewed as very encouraging news for anyone eager to return to some sort of normalcy

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