WATCH:Can you get COVID-19 twice? Qatar study examines the possibility of reinfection

WATCH:Can you get COVID-19 twice? Qatar study examines the possibility of reinfection

QLNews
By QLNews

Since the start of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, health authorities in Qatar have gone above and beyond to detect and monitor suspected cases of the virus.Can you get COVID-19 twice? Qatar study examines the possibility of reinfection

Is COVID-19 reinfection a possibility? Is the infection milder the second time around? And how long does immunity from the first infection last? Can reinfected people still transmit the virus to others? Too many questions and only one answer, maybe. 

Professor. Laith Abu-Raddad, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Qatar Foundation partner university Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) said, “Although cases of reinfections have been recorded worldwide, due to their low numbers and several other factors involved, we cannot rule out the possibility that some of them could be false positives.” He also highlighted that not enough time has passed since the virus first struck for the medical research community to draw definitive conclusions about reinfections.

Led by Prof. Abu-Raddad, a team at WCM-Q, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health and Hamad Medical Corporation, conducted a nationwide study to examine the possibility of COVID-19 reinfection. The study was conducted on a large cohort of over 100,000 people, all of whom had contracted and recovered from COVID-19. For the purpose of this study, all cases were tested again after 45 days of the first positive result. Those that tested positive for the second time were assessed to see whether their new positive test reflected a true reinfection.

“The study concluded that reinfections in Qatar are rare, occurring at a rate of less than 4 in 10,000 cases. All cases of reinfections recorded so far have been mild, with only one case needing hospitalization for a short period of time. Not a single death in reinfected cases has been recorded so far,” said Prof. Abu-Raddad.

There is a possibility that some of the reinfections detected were not true reinfections. Prof. Abu-Raddad explained, “It is possible that some of those infected persons may not have completely eliminated the first infection, or one of their tests could have been a false positive. We plan to shortly start genetic sequencing of these reinfections to compare the genetic code of the virus in the first infection and the reinfection for the final verification on each identified reinfection.”

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding immunity as well – some reports mention how a drop in antibodies has been seen two to three months after infection, spreading concern that surviving COVID-19 would offer little protection against future coronavirus infections, some going as far as saying a vaccine might not be effective.

“It is premature, if not dangerous, to draw such conclusions without solid evidence. In reality, it is not at all unusual for antibody levels to drop following an infection. The drop in antibodies is not necessarily an indication of the inability of the body to fight the virus, rather it shows that the immune system works efficiently. Once it has tackled an infection and it is convinced that there is no need for high levels of antibodies, it goes into ‘rest mode’, wherein antibodies levels can drop. If and when the immune system does detect another threat, it quickly starts producing antibodies again.”

This supports what has been observed in Qatar so far and may explain why all the cases of reinfection have been mild. There is growing evidence that the body is able to rapidly respond to the virus the second time around, and that is because there are immune memory cells that can mount a better and faster response.

“What we know so far is that people do develop an immune response – quite a strong one in the vast majority of cases. What is not completely clear yet is how long the immune response lasts. One thing of concern here is that some of the reinfected persons were recorded to have high viral loads and thus can still spread the virus to others.

Prof. Abu-Raddad said, “While our findings are encouraging, they do not mean COVID-19 recovered patients should assume that they have developed long-term immunity. It is important to exercise caution, and everyone should continue to comply with the control measures of masking and social distancing. Until a vaccine is developed, these preventive measures are our best bet to prevent infection as well as reinfection.”

Earlier MoPH launched a COVID-19 environmental testing pilot, in partnership with a number of governmental, educational, and research institutions in Qatar along with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar.

While Qatar has been successful in flattening the curve, the country has been constantly urging the community to adhere to preventive and precautionary measures in controlling the virus.

---

Make sure to check out our social media to keep track of the latest content.

Instagram - @qatarliving

Twitter - @qatarliving

Facebook - Qatar Living

YouTube qatarlivingofficial

Source: Qatar Foundation 

 

 

 

Log in or register to post comments

More from Qatar Living

Qatar’s top beaches for water sports thrills

Qatar’s top beaches for water sports thrills

Let's dive into the best beaches in Qatar, where you can have a blast with water activities, sports and all around good times.
Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part Two

Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part Two

This guide brings you the top apps that will simplify the use of government services in Qatar.
Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part One

Most Useful Apps In Qatar - Part One

this guide presents the top must-have Qatar-based apps to help you navigate, dine, explore, access government services, and more in the country.
Winter is coming – Qatar’s seasonal adventures await!

Winter is coming – Qatar’s seasonal adventures await!

Qatar's winter months are brimming with unmissable experiences, from the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to the World Aquatics Championships Doha 2024 and a variety of outdoor adventures and cultural delights.
7 Days of Fun: One-Week Activity Plan for Kids

7 Days of Fun: One-Week Activity Plan for Kids

Stuck with a week-long holiday and bored kids? We've got a one week activity plan for fun, learning, and lasting memories.
Wallet-friendly Mango Sticky Rice restaurants that are delightful on a budget

Wallet-friendly Mango Sticky Rice restaurants that are delightful on a budget

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a sweet escape into the world of budget-friendly Mango Sticky Rice that's sure to satisfy both your cravings and your budget!
Places to enjoy Mango Sticky Rice in  high-end elegance

Places to enjoy Mango Sticky Rice in high-end elegance

Delve into a world of culinary luxury as we explore the upmarket hotels and fine dining restaurants serving exquisite Mango Sticky Rice.
Where to celebrate World Vegan Day in Qatar

Where to celebrate World Vegan Day in Qatar

Celebrate World Vegan Day with our list of vegan food outlets offering an array of delectable options, spanning from colorful salads to savory shawarma and indulgent desserts.