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Why has the world turned a blind eye to COVID-19 re-infections?

The world may have gotten used to the COVID-19 pandemic but it is still very little we know about the origins of the virus and what it is capable of achieving. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization ruled out that experiencing fever, dry cough and tiredness indicated the presence of COVID-19. A few weeks later, the debate about asymptomatic patients surfaced and took precedence. It was made clear that people experiencing no symptoms could also be carriers of COVID-19. Fast forward to December and we have potential vaccines under development.

Countries like Mainland China have made conscious efforts to roll out the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia – confirming a solid 97 per cent seroconversion rate. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Philippines are among other countries to have followed suit with the lattermost having ordered a whopping 25 million doses.

However, on the flip side, what the world has clearly down- played is the possibility of contracting COVID-19 again. Just over two months ago, it was reported that a 25-year old man from Nevada, United States became the first to have caught COVID-19 again, this time requiring oxygen support. Since the United States has topped the list of most cases all year round, the chances of re-infections are more likely.

India, the second country behind the U.S., is also seeing a steady increase in COVID-19 re-infections. A report by the Assam Medical College in India concluded that individuals who are re-infected with the virus experience more severity than their initial diagnosis. More research is underway pertaining to the correlation between stronger immunity against COVID-19 and getting re-infected. But nonetheless, research has substantiated that the chances of catching the virus again are possible.

In light of the recent evidence surrounding re-infection rates, we now know that many countries and health organizations have turned a blind eye to COVID-19 re-infections. Countries were so focused on helping patients recover from coronavirus that they negated the aspect of re-infections completely. Could 51 million recovered COVID-19 patients get re-infected? If yes, is this an indication that the pandemic would not subside any time soon until a vaccine is fully developed?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited that cases of re-infection have been reported but are rare. However, even if half of the 51 million people get re-infected with coronavirus, the cases would double or quadruple the second they come in contact with others.

It is well-founded that asymptomatic individuals are “super spreaders” of the virus, showing no symptoms at all. Those who have fully recovered from the virus would not bother getting tested again if they experience no symptoms. Hence, the chances of them spreading the virus in their households and workplaces would increase as a result. Then there is a false negative test that would make people believe they are free from COVID-19 when in fact, they are carriers of the disease. Countries around the world are already having trouble with testing, poor governance and negligence towards the pandemic in general. The lack of knowledge about COVID-19 re-infections would only make matters worse. Cases would resurge and people would have no hope left. The pandemic has already caused a lot of anxiety and fear this year. As families band together to pull through a global crisis, the last thing anyone would want is to relive a more severe form of COVID-19. To ensure safety and prevention of the virus, patients should maintain a safe distance with their family members at least two weeks after recovering

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