PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Once you’ve been infected with the coronavirus, can you get it again?

“It is possible to test positive again. This does not represent a second infection or reinfection,” says Dr. Marc Itskowitz, a primary care internist at Allegheny General Hospital.

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So after you’ve fully recovered, what does a positive PCR swab mean?

“There are still some viral particles that are in their body that’s turning the test positive,” says Dr. Itskowitz.

To take a closer look at this issue of the persistent virus, researchers in South Korea studied almost 300 people who got better but tested positive again.

Of the nearly 800 people who interacted with them, none of these contacts tested positive.

Also, virus samples collected from the repeat positives could not be grown in the lab.

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“These viral particles are not contagious, and these patients represent no risk,” Dr. Itskowitz says.

Some guidelines for leaving quarantine, or for returning to work or to certain living arrangements, incorporate testing.

Could this eventually change based on the new information?

“There’s really no good reason to test somebody again after they’ve tested positive and they fully recovered from the infection,” says Dr. Itskowitz.

Of note, with a different type of test, on the blood, not the back of the nose, all of the study participants had neutralizing antibodies — the protective kind.

Even with these antibodies, it’s too soon to know what this means long term.

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There’s likely to be some protection, but for how long and how strong, we just don’t know yet.

Dr. Maria Simbra