- WHO has declared that coronavirus patients who recover can't get infected again
- The international agency also said those who later tested positive for the disease were not infected
- According to the report, WHO claimed that those who tested positive were simply expelling dead lung cells
A report by Daily Mail indicates that the World Health Organisation (WHO) affirmed that the people who tested positive for coronavirus after already having been infected are not getting reinfected.
Legit.ng gathered that the newspaper reported that WHO told AFP that coronavirus patients declared recovered who later tested positive were still expelling dead lung cells rather than getting a new infection.
According to the report, South Korean health authorities raised fresh coronavirus concerns after reporting more than 300 cases of recovered patients who later tested positive again.
The authorities said that if those who survive COVID-19 could become reinfected with the virus, it could complicate efforts to lift quarantine restrictions and produce a vaccine.
The WHO said that such test results appear to be 'false positives' caused by the lingering, but likely not infectious, lung cells and leftover material.
MailOnline also noted that an expert in virology said that once the virus is inactivated by the immune system and forms a complex bond with an antibody, it stops being infectious but can still be detected by a swab test.
"We are aware that some patients test positive after they clinically recover,' a WHO spokesperson told AFP, without making specific reference to the South Korean cases.
"From what we currently know – and this is based on very recent data – it seems these patients are expelling leftover materials from their lungs, as part of the recovery phase.
"For some viruses, such as measles, those who contract it are immune for life, while for other coronaviruses such as SARS, the immunity lasted from a few months to a couple of years," WHO said.
People infected with SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – build up antibodies starting a week or so after infection or the onset of symptoms, research has shown.
But it is still not clear whether the body builds up enough immunity to ward off a new attack by the virus or, if it does, how long such immunity lasts.
"We need a systematic collection of samples from recovered patients to better understand how long they shed the live virus.
"We also need to understand if this means they can pass the virus to other people – having live virus does not necessarily mean it can be passed to another person," the WHO spokesperson said.
WHO also said more research is needed on the recovered patients who originally tested negative and then tested positive weeks later.
Quoting an infectious disease epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerhove, in a recent interview with BBC, the online medium explained the ‘dead cell’ scenario.
"As the lungs heal, there are parts of the lung that are dead cells that are coming up,’ she said, talking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. These are fragments of the lungs that are actually testing positive.
"It is not an infectious virus, it’s not reinfection, it’s not reactivation – it is actually part of the healing process that is being captured again as being positive," she added.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that it is necessary for Nigerians to get right and adequate information on steps to take if they get exposed to someone with a laboratory-confirmed case.
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