By Treven Pyles
Posted on July 24th, 2020
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge across the world and authorities still wait for the infection to peak. So, we might be faced with the threat of the virus and all the associated problems for the months to come. One worrying question that preoccupies many is whether someone can contract the virus twice.
This matter is even more sensitive among people who are already suffering from an underlying respiratory condition such as chronic bronchitis. Based on the information that's currently available, we are going to shed more light on the possibility of contracting the novel coronavirus twice and how the virus can impact people with chronic bronchitis.
The novel coronavirus, in its initial stage, triggers symptoms that are common to any type of flu. Sneezing, coughing, fever, or headache are the most common signs. However, in patients who develop complications, the virus can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, organ failure, or death (which has an incidence of up to 3.4%).
Just like in the case of any other disease, some categories of people are more at risk if they contract this coronavirus. This group of people usually comprises the elderly (the death rate is 14% in those over 80 and it decreases with age) and people with underlying conditions. Chronic bronchitis patients belong to the second category as they already have a chronic respiratory disease. For them, the risk of developing complications due to the virus is higher as their respiratory system is already weak and this is precisely the part of the body that is affected by the coronavirus.
As this virus is fairly new (it only emerged last year in December) and medical specialists are still in the early stage of studying it, predicting whether infection can occur more than once is difficult. However, according to different opinions, the evolution of the virus will see it surge in the next months and decrease during the summer.
With most viruses, the first infection triggers the body's defense mechanism which creates certain antibodies that protect it from getting infected the second time. It is not yet sure whether the same person can reacquire the coronavirus infection a second time. However, viruses often mutate which means that if the coronavirus will reappear in autumn, we might be dealing with a different form of the virus. Therefore, an infection might be possible even among individuals who were already infected these past weeks.
Furthermore, data prevailed form China and Japan suggests that the virus can be caught more than once as several patients from these countries have been hospitalized again after they were initially discharged and considered cured. According to news reports, a 40-year old woman from Japan who was diagnosed with COVID-19 was discharged from hospital in February as she recovered but then got infected again.
This raises concerns about whether reinfection can occur in large numbers. At the same time, it is possible that the virus remains dormant after a person recovers, and then manifests again once it reaches the lungs.
Apparently, after the initial infection with the novel coronavirus, the body does develop an antibody to face the virus. However, its effect may not last long in all individuals. Therefore, reinfection may occur again, unless a vaccine is discovered meanwhile. Until then, the best way to keep the coronavirus at a distance is to adopt proper defense. This means avoiding anybody who has tested positive and large crowds, generally.
While there is yet uncertainty about whether infection with the novel coronavirus can occur more than once, one thing is for sure, people at risk such as those who are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis should be extra careful.