WASHINGTON — If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?
It’s possible, but such cases seem to be rare.
It’s not unusual to develop some immunity to a virus after an infection, since our bodies are generally better at recognizing and fighting off bugs they’ve encountered before. And that seems to be the case with the coronavirus as well, though scientists are still trying to figure out how long any protection might last.
Some reinfections have been confirmed, but two new studies suggest that’s very unusual.
In one, only two out of 1,265 health workers in the United Kingdom who were previously infected ended up testing positive again for the coronavirus in the following six months. In another study of people in the U.S., only 0.3% of people who had been infected tested positive for the virus over the next several months – around the same rate of positivity as the U.K study.
The findings bode well for the COVID-19 vaccines that are being rolled out, which trigger the kind of immune responses that the studies found protective.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The United States has more than 21 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. had more than 357,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 86 million confirmed cases with more than 1.8 million deaths.