Chinese authorities announced earlier this month that they had gained control over the coronavirus pandemic, with the growth of its once skyrocketing caseload allegedly grinding to a near halt. While some observers have greeted this claim with skepticism, others have celebrated the news.
However, a new report suggests that even though the spread of new cases has ceased, recovered patients can still be at risk for re-infection.
No one expected it
According to Chinese physicians interviewed by The Taiwan News, those who have had the disease once can still go on to suffer it again, with potentially deadly consequences.
“It’s highly possible to get infected a second time,” said one doctor, who only spoke out on the condition of anonymity.
What’s more, he explained that medication used to treat the disease can leave patients at great risk of suffering a heart attack.
“A few people recovered from the first time by their own immune system, but the meds they use are damaging their heart tissue, and when they get it the second time, the antibody doesn’t help but makes it worse, and they die a sudden death from heart failure,” the doctor stated.
False negatives are common
Also disturbing is that the virus can produce false negatives in infected people, even when patients are tested multiple times.
“It can fool the test kit — there were cases that they found, the CT scan shows both lungs are fully infected but the test came back negative four times. The fifth test came back positive.”
The doctor stressed that the combination of reinfection, false negatives, and the tendency for infected people to remain asymptomatic for extended periods shows that the virus has “outsmarted all of us.”
Meanwhile, medical officials who spoke with the South China Morning Post reported that between 3 and 10 percent of people who are believed to have recovered end up testing positive, but it is still unclear as to whether or not such individuals pose a threat to others.
“So far there is no evidence to suggest that they are infectious,” said Wang Wei. Wang serves as president of Tongji Hospital, which is where the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed.
“We need a large-scale epidemiological study to guide our disease surveillance and prevention works,” he stressed.