What is Reinfection? It’s Complicated

Good news on reinfection front: US NIH researchers found that people with SARS-CoV-2 antibodies showed “substantial” immunity to the virus at least for a few months, ScienceDaily reports

That finding could have big implications for decisions about reopening schools and workplaces, and deciding who is prioritized for vaccines
But what even is reinfection? Katherine J. Wu asks in The Atlantic

  • Unanswered questions around immunity and new variants complicated the answer.

  • Reinfection could indicate that a person’s immune defenses have worn off… or that the virus itself has changed and become unrecognizable to those earlier defenses.

Should these latter cases be described as reinfection, or another infection entirely? The semantics aren’t settled.

New Reality: The rise of new variants suggest the latter will become a new reality, as researchers flag instances of new variants infecting survivors of the “OG” virus.

The Takeaway: In all likelihood, immune systems will be tussling with the evolving coronavirus for some time. But over time, “virus and human will grow accustomed to each other, reaching something of a détente,” Wu writes.

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