JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Doctors say COVID-19 reinfection is possible because, although you may build up immunity after the first infection, there is no guarantee that immunity to the virus is permanent.
When it comes to studying COVID-19, Dr. Pauline Rolle of the Florida Department of Health in Duval County says the topic of immunity following a COVID-19 infection continues to baffle doctors treating the illness.
“With COVID-19, we don’t know how long immunity lasts. That’s still a question we have in the medical community. Once someone has had the disease once, how long does immunity lasts? And so, people are at risk of getting it again,” Rolle said. “The other thing is the virus is mutating.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say this is also the case with other coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS, which have been around longer than COVID-19. Therefore, health officials say even if you have gotten over COVID-19, you should still take precautions that include social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands.
Another baffling question is why some patients are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms well beyond the two-week quarantine period.
“We’ve heard reports of people saying they feel like they’re burning up for the inside out. We’ve had folks say they feel chronically tired. And we have seen patients with symptoms beyond the 14 days,” Rolle said.
According to Rolle, an extended period of COVID-19 symptoms is happing in every age group that gets infected. Rolle says while it’s hard to predict which patients will experience prolonged symptoms, doctors are taking a much harder look at patients with pre-existing chronic illnesses because that’s the group that, on the surface, appears to suffer greatly from the virus.
It’s worth noting that because COVID-19 is constantly being studied by scientists all over the world, information about symptoms and immunity continues to evolve.