Get the coronavirus again
It's official: people can be re-infected with the coronavirus. The first documented case is a 33-year-old man in Hong Kong who contracted the virus in late March and picked it up again more than four months later while on a trip to Europe.
The evidence lay in the genome sequencing of the virus from both infections in the man, which the researchers found to be significantly different. The second strain was one that was circulating in Europe when it was there.
The theoretical possibility of a renewed infection is no surprise. "We expected immunity to the coronavirus to last less than a year because that is the case with the common cold coronavirus," said Apoorva Mandavilli, a science reporter for the Times.
The man had mild symptoms at first. Sometimes he had Covid-19, but none the second time – an encouraging sign and very likely an indication that his immune system had been trained by the initial infection.
If the research is supported by subsequent cases then it will underscore the need for a comprehensive vaccine. "We can't just get herd immunity naturally because only vaccines can produce the kind of immune response that can prevent re-infection," Apoorva said.
Forget about antibody tests. ] Many of the current ones are inaccurate, some are looking for the wrong antibodies and even the right antibodies can go away, experts at the Infectious Diseases Society of America have advised. And because antibody tests can't tell if you are immune to subsequent infections, they can't decide whether to make it easier for you to wear masks and other socially distant precautions.
China Returns to Normal Life
As the United States struggles to contain the pandemic and the European Union faces a new wave of cases, life in many parts of China is more or less back to normal.
Schools and movie theaters have reopened, cities host big events, social distancing and mask rules have been relaxed, and people are resuming their old habits and routines – with some changes.
It is a sharp departure from the early days of the outbreak. When China was the epicenter of the virus, fear gripped the country. The authoritarian government put in place a strict lockdown that has successfully contained cases and now local transmission rates are close to zero. The total number of confirmed cases in the country is 84,951, with at least 4,634 deaths from the virus. In the United States, nearly 5.7 million people were infected and at least 176,200 died.
Experts warn that China could still be on the verge of a resurgence, and many fear that the public is not taking the virus seriously enough. Even so, many are just happy to return to something that resembles normal life.
Yuki Liu, a 28-year-old who works for a foreign trading company, attended a crowded pool party rave in Wuhan earlier this month that said she felt "relaxed and free".
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 24, 2020
] What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
- In the beginning, the coronavirus seemed to be primarily a respiratory disease – many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired and coughed a lot. Those who appeared to be the sickest had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome – which caused their blood oxygen levels to drop – and were given extra oxygen. In severe cases, they were put on ventilators to make it easier for them to breathe. By now, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. (And some people don't show many symptoms at all.) In April, the C.D.C. added to list of early signs of sore throat, fever, chills, and muscle pain. Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and nausea have also been observed. Another tell-tale sign of infection can be a sudden, profound decrease in your sense of smell and taste. In some cases, teenagers and young adults have developed painful red and purple lesions on their fingers and toes – nicknamed "covid toe" – but few other serious symptoms. More severe cases can lead to inflammation and organ damage, even without difficulty breathing. There have been cases of dangerous blood clots, strokes and brain disorders.
Why does it help to stand six feet away from others?
- The coronavirus spreads mainly through droplets from your mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The C.D.C., one of the organizations using this measure, bases its six-foot recommendation on the idea that most of the large droplets that people make when they cough or sneeze fall within six feet of the ground. But six feet has never been a magical number that guarantees complete protection. For example, sneezing, according to a recent study, can trigger droplets that are far farther than two meters away. It's a rule of thumb: it is best to stand six feet apart, especially when it's windy. But always keep a mask on even if you think they are far enough apart.
I have antibodies. Am i immune now?
- From now on this seems likely for at least a few months. There have been scary reports of people appearing to be suffering from a second attack of Covid-19. However, experts say these patients may have a protracted course of infection, with the virus taking a slow toll weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus typically produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies may only last in the body for two to three months, which may seem worrying, but that's perfectly normal after an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it is highly unlikely to be possible or make people sick a second time in a short window of time after the initial infection.
I am a small business owner. Can I get relief?
- The economic stimulus programs passed in March offer help for millions of American small businesses. Eligible are companies and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also eligible. The assistance offered, administered by the Small Business Administration, includes the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. But a lot of people haven't seen any payouts yet. Even those who have received help are confused: the rules are draconian and some are stuck on money that they cannot use. Many small business owners get less than expected or hear nothing at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about being able to work again?
"To be honest, I almost forgot about the epidemic," she said.
What else we are tracking
What you are doing
I have completed a project that has been in the works for almost 50 years. My father made a chess board. He wanted to make the chess pieces too, but never got around to it. I started carving the pieces about 20 years ago (he died 30 years ago). I finally had time to finish and now my chess pieces adorn his chess board.
– Gary Adkins, Raleigh, N.C.
Let us know how you are dealing with the outbreak. Send us an answer here that we may publish in an upcoming newsletter.
Subscribe here to receive the briefing by email.