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Scientists currently don’t know if those who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune to the disease, and if so, for how long.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the duration of immunity to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is currently unknown.Studies on a different coronavirus, MERS-CoV, showed that patients were unlikely to be re-infected shortly after they recovered. Another coronavirus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002-03 created immunity for two years among those who were infected and recovered.

But over the last month, news reports from Japan, China and elsewhere have documented patients becoming reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 only weeks after their initial infection. In one Chinese study, 14% of those who recovered tested positive at a later check-up. A Time Magazine article reported on many of these developments.

In early April, the CDC began testing some Americans for antibodies to the virus, which could help scientists better understand both the spread of COVID-19 and when restrictions on public life can be lifted.


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