Can you catch COVID-19 twice? Medical experts say it's possible.

Posted at 7:43 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 08:23:17-05

More than 83,000 Idahoans have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

As cases continue to climb, should you be worried about contracting the virus again if you've already recovered once? Medical experts say it is possible and there have been cases of reinfection, but it is rare to uncommon.

“We know it does happen," said Tom Coffman, infectious disease doctor with Sawtooth Epidemiology and Saint Alphonsus. "There have been some pretty well-documented cases but so far we think it’s between uncommon and rare.”

Laura McGeorge, St. Luke's System Service Line medical director for primary and specialty care, said someone who is infected would develop antibodies. However, because the virus is so new it is still not clear how long those antibodies can protect against reinfection.

"We do know there have been some studies that show as early as 8 weeks after infection, antibodies cannot be detected," McGeorge said. "We just don’t know how people are protected or how to what degree they are protected."

Regardless of prior infection, medical experts urge Idahoans to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing. And even if you did catch coronavirus once, it is still possible to catch it again.

"We would hope that it’s at least years, and something that could be occasionally boosted with a dose of a vaccine perhaps, but we’re so early on in this," Coffman said. "We’re sort of learning really everyday, some piece of new information comes out."