SARS-CoV-2 Reinfection: Microbial Minutes

Sept. 21, 2020

What do we know about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection, and how do neutralizing antibodies correlate with immunity to the virus?

What's Hot in the Microbial Sciences?

ASM presents Microbial Minutes, a monthly video series of trending topics in the microbial sciences.

Since the novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019, scientists have been discussing the possibility of long-term immunity to this virus. Whether or not someone can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 more than once is important because if protective immunity is naturally produced, we have a greater chance of fighting and preventing the disease through adaptive immune responses and vaccination. Here we dive into the research that evaluates SARS-CoV-2 reinfection potential and risk. The papers and key take-away points discussed in this Microbial Minutes are listed below.

Can you become infected with SARS-CoV-2 more than once? ​

Addetia A. et al. Neutralizing Antibodies Correlate with Protection from SARS-CoV-2 in Humans during a Fishery Vessel Oubreak with High Attack Rate. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Aug. 14, 2020.

What does reinfection with other, more familiar viruses look like? 

Gershon A.A. et al. Varicella zoster virus infection. Nature Reviews- Disease Primers. July 2, 2015.

How the Flu Virus Can Change: "Drift" and "Shift." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oct. 15, 2019. ​

How likely is SARS-CoV-2 reinfection to occur?

Abu-Raddad L.J. et al. Assessment of the risk of SARS-CoV-2 reinfection in an intense re-exposure setting. medRxiV. Sept. 28, 2020.

Take-Away Points

  • SARS-CoV-2 reinfection is possible.
  • Neutralizing antibodies are correlated with protection from reinfection.
  • Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 seems to be uncommon for at least a few months post primary infection.

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Author: Ashley Hagen, M.S.

Ashley Hagen, M.S.
Ashley Hagen, M.S. is the Scientific and Digital Editor for the American Society for Microbiology and host of ASM's Microbial Minutes.