WHO technical lead Maria Van Kerkhove in an interview Sunday on BBC’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’, responding directly to the report in April that some COVID-19 patients in South Korea tested positive again afterthought to have had recovered.
“What they’re finding in some individuals, after they test negative, after a week or two or even longer, they’re finding that they’re testing positive again. And what is actually happening is as the lungs heal there are parts of the lungs that are dead cells that are coming up that are testing, there are fragments of those lungs that are actually testing positive for PCR. It’s not infectious virus, it’s not reinfection it’s not reactivation, it’s actually part of the healing process that is captured as being positive. So that’s something that’s really interesting,” Kerkhove said.
On the question if people can be reinfected? They don’t know yet.
“What we’re learning right now is, when somebody is infected with COVID-19, they develop antibodies and they develop part of an immune response, one to two to three weeks after infection. What we’re trying to understand is in that antibody response does that mean that they have immunity? Does it mean that they have a strong protection against re-infection? And if so, how long that protection lasts. We don’t know the answer to that yet.”