Answering this question is tough as the most common diagnostic test for coronavirus, RT-PCR, identifies the genetic material of the virus, but fails to distinguish between the living and the dead viruses. It is challenging to know if someone has lingering symptoms of the virus or has been infected by Covid-19 for the second time as people who have been infected can still have a positive test up to several weeks after they are ill.
Despite some cases of COVID-19 resurfacing, health experts and scientists around the world are skeptical on whether this is due to reinfection or reactivation of the virus and testing is to be blamed.
The requirement of More Research:
There are doctors that do believe that COVID-19 can attack a person twice and cause reinfection. In August, a person in Hong Kong, who had already once been infected by the virus and recovered, was diagnosed with COVID-19 again. This pointed out that despite months into the virus, there is a lot we don’t know about it. It should be noted that the virus did not cause symptoms the second time.
Some Possible Explanations for Resurfacing of the virus:
1. Anomaly: The virus could have had an anomaly so you were shown the negative result in the first test, but in the second test, the virus was picked up.
2. There could be reinfection, but just like the common flu, the person who was infected in Hong Kong’s body remembered its last encounter with COVID-19 and thus fought it before it could do much damage to the body.
3. A person’s body was infected at first, but by the time he took the test, he was able to suppress the virus from multiplying. However, when he retook the test, the virus was more dominant.
Re-infection is said to be very rare, but a lot of studies is required to understand why a person may get infected again. Tests of reinfection were conducted on monkeys. They did not develop any symptoms and developed an immune response to the virus within three weeks.
But, people who have been infected once, should not discard the public health advises or SOPs for COVID-19. There is no concrete evidence that the people who have antibodies because of the first infection, will be able to fight reinfection.