What’s the difference between the coronavirus, COVID-19, and SARS-CoV-2? 

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are known to cause respiratory issues. SARS-CoV-2 is a virus part of that group which is causing the ongoing pandemic and is colloquially referred to as the coronavirus. SARS-CoV-2 stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus—it is responsible for the COVID-19 disease.

Does recovery always result in immunity? 

Note: The information isn’t up-to-date. But in summary, the probability of having COVID-19 a second time isn’t 0, but they are lower than originally for some time after remission.

Experts don’t know for certain, but there’s reason to be optimistic. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told US Congress that he felt it was unlikely: “We haven’t formally proved it, but … if this acts like any other virus, once you recover, you won’t get reinfected.”  A Chinese study in which researchers infected rhesus macaques with SARS-CoV-2 found that reinfection did not occur.

While there have been some positive coronavirus tests after recovery, most medical professionals believe that these are more likely the result of errors in testing rather than evidence of reinfection. The Los Angeles Times quoted Dr. Keiji Fukuda, director of Hong Kong University’s School of Public Health: 

“What’s more likely is that people are being released from hospitals while still carrying dormant fragments of the disease that are not infectious but resemble the virus when put through a nucleic acid test,”  he said. “The test may be positive, but the infection is not there.”

It’s also true that we don’t know exactly how long immunity will last. A study on MERS, another respiratory coronavirus that originated in Saudi Arabia in 2012, found that the relevant antibodies were undetectable in as little as six months after infection. On the other hand, a study by Taiwanese researchers found that survivors of the SARS outbreak in 2003 had antibodies that lasted for up to three years.

Can you still infect people if you are immune?

It’s theoretically possible if you come into contact with infected people, such as if one touches a surface that has the virus, but most transmissions are caused by people who are infected. Notably, one lab in Iceland reported that as many as 50 percent of cases could be asymptomatic. So hiring people that are immune significantly reduces the risk of transmission, but we still encourage them to maintain good pandemic habits, such as regularly washing their hands. 

If I contract COVID-19, when do I stop being contagious?

A Chinese study found that low levels of the virus can persist for up to 20 days after initial symptoms. Currently, the CDC recommends that people can stop isolating only if they have been fever-free for 21 hours, their other symptoms have improved, and it has been at least seven days since they first experienced symptoms. Loss of smell is usually the first symptom experienced, often followed by cough, fever, tiredness and, in particularly severe cases, difficulty breathing. If you think you have COVID-19, we recommend reading this. 

What is the John Hopkins Center For Health Security?

The John Hopkins Center for Health Security is a charity that specializes in biosecurity. It has been endorsed by the Open Philanthropy Project, a non-profit which specializes in identifying high-quality charities. We will be donating 10% of our proceeds to the JHCHS to help keep disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic from happening in the future.