The Korean CDC is reporting a rising number of "cured" COVID-19 patients retesting positive.
Korea's Center for Disease Control released information last week, as reported by Bloomberg News, lending to the idea that the virus can “reactivate" in patients who have been previously cured of the virus.
In South Korea, 51 patients previously who were classified as cured of the illness tested positive again for the COVID-19 virus, stated the Korean CDC last Monday. That number jumped to 91 on Friday, April 10, and then increased to 116 as of April 13. There have also been some whispers out of China about concerns of reinfection in cured patients, though no official numbers or test results have been released.
The new positive test results were found after the patients had left quarantine and were being evaluated to go home. A patient is considered negative when they have had two negative test results within 24 hours of each other. The Korean CDC plans to conduct a larger epidemiological probe into these cases to find out why they may be testing positive again. It seems the virus may be able to reactivate somehow, and learning what conditions reactivation may happen in, and why it's important to understand how to treat and prevent the spread of the virus.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, director-general of the Korean CDC, said:
"While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this. There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.”
Eun-kyeong also said the virus may have been reactivated after it remained dormant, as opposed to them being reinfected.
Some are concerned that inconsistences in testing could also lead to the "reactivated" positive results, making it more difficult to develop a vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also investigating these new positive tests in patients thought to be cured, a WHO spokesperson told Reuters. According to WHO officials, more than 300,000 of the 1.87 million coronavirus cases across the world have recovered. However, more data will need to be researched from recovered patients.
Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said in a press conference on April 13:
“There are many reasons why we might see reactivation of infection either with the same infection or another infectious agent. There are many situations in viral infection where someone doesn’t clear the virus entirely from their system.”
Some patients can also clear the main infection but develop a secondary bacterial infection, Ryan added.
There's so much we don’t know about this virus. The risk of reactivation or reinfection would certainly affect how long we self-isolate and stay at home, and will certainly play a role in how soon we can get things back to normal.
Have you seen or heard this recent news about the COVID-19 virus possibly reactivating in supposedly cured patients? How does this possibly make you feel? We want to hear from you in the comments.