In a very positive sign for U.S. states, countries, and regions reopening economies around the world, researchers have found evidence that patients who test positive for COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus after recovering aren’t infectious and could have the antibodies that prevent them from falling sick again.
Research last month showed that PCR tests for the coronavirus’ nucleic acid can’t distinguish between dead and viable virus particles, potentially giving the wrong impression that someone who tests positive for the virus remains infectious.
Scientists from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 285 COVID-19 survivors who had tested positive for the coronavirus after their illness had apparently resolved, as indicated by a previous negative test result. The so-called re-positive patients weren’t found to have spread any lingering infection, and virus samples collected from them couldn’t be grown in culture, indicating the patients were shedding non-infectious or dead virus particles.
The findings, reported late Monday, are a positive sign for regions looking to open up as more patients recover from the pandemic that has sickened at least 4.8 million people. The emerging evidence from South Korea suggests those who have recovered from COVID-19 present no risk of spreading the coronavirus when physical distancing measures are relaxed.
The results mean health authorities in South Korea will no longer consider people infectious after recovering from the illness… authorities said that under revised protocols, people should no longer be required to test negative for the virus before returning to work or school after they have recovered from their illness and completed their period of isolation.
Experts believe antibodies probably convey some level of protection against the virus, but they don’t have any solid proof yet. Nor do they know how long any immunity may last. A recent study in Singapore showed that recovered patients from severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, are found to have “significant levels of neutralizing antibodies” nine to 17 years after initial infection, according to researchers including Danielle E. Anderson of Duke-NUS Medical School.
MacDailyNews Take: The finding that those who’ve recovered from COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus aren’t infectious is a huge positive as we proceed toward herd immunity ahead of an effective vaccine!