Quick Hits: South Korea Says You Can’t Be Infected Twice

Scientists believe reported cases of coronavirus relapse were actually due to test failures.

A recent Sky News article reported that researchers at the South Korean center for disease control and prevention (CDC) have concluded that it is impossible for the COVID-19 virus to reactivate in humans. Because there had been 277 cases of patients falling ill twice, researchers thought the virus could be mutating so fast that the immune system couldn’t keep up. However, genetic analyses didn’t find any changes that could effectively hide the virus from the immune system. 

South Korea’s CDC determined that suspected relapsed cases had false positive test results as the tests couldn’t decipher between live traces of the virus and dead samples that remained after recovery. As opposed to viruses like HIV and chickenpox that break into the nucleus of human cells and lay latent for years before reactivating, coronavirus stays outside of the host cell’s nucleus. This means that it doesn’t cause chronic infection or recurrence.