CDC’s Updated Guidance on Investigating Possible COVID-19 Reinfections Not a Concern: Health Experts

Reinfections are not a common occurrence
October 30, 2020 Updated: October 30, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for investigating probable COVID-19 reinfections in response to reports of people becoming reinfected and to support public health investigations.

The protocol requires the initial infection to be confirmed along with a “virus detection across two distinct time periods with genetic sequencing data” to be considered a true reinfection and not from persistent virus shedding.

Two cases that may be investigated include people who may or may not exhibit symptoms similar to COVID-19 in 90 days or more, or in 45 to 89 days after initial infection or illness, along with other requirements.

Generally, reinfection is when someone was infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, recovered, and then became infected again at a later time.

Researchers claim that it is important to study reinfections to have a better understanding of the virus, but say the occurrences are not a serious concern unless they become more common or lead to severe disease symptoms.

Dr. Simone Gold, founder of AmericasFrontlineDoctors.com, told The Epoch Times in an email that “cases of reinfection are exceedingly rare” and if a person does get reinfected, “there are safe, effective, and inexpensive treatment options available.”

A recent Belgium study shows that early use of low-dose hydroxychloroquine monotherapy soon after hospitalization was associated with a lower mortality rate. Hydroxychloroquine studies (involving combination-use with other drugs including zinc) are still ongoing around the world.

According to c19study.com, a webpage tracking COVID-19 studies worldwide, early treatment in “100 percent of studies report positive effects, [and] 64 percent is the median improvement.” There was only a 24 percent median improvement in late treatments. Remdesivir is the only drug that is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for hospitalized patients.

The CDC also stated on its webpage that “confirmed and suspected cases of reinfection of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been reported, but remain rare.”

So far, out of 45 million cases worldwide, only six cases have been scientifically proven to be COVID-19 reinfection.

Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University School of Public Health, said in a series of tweets on Oct. 12 that getting reinfected does not mean it will lead to more severe disease.

“So far, nothing indicates that people are getting reinfected all the time, much less getting enhanced disease during their second bout with COVID-19,” Rasmussen says.

“When a pandemic infects millions of people worldwide, we expect to see rare events emerge. Even though our immune systems work in generally the same way, we are all different and respond to infections in our own unique and special ways.”

While many suspected reinfections are less severe than the first infection, as is common in other coronavirus infections, a few cases have shown to be the opposite.

The first confirmed case of reinfection in the United States involved a 25-year-old Nevada man who became reinfected with SARS-CoV-2 in less than two months. His symptoms were more severe than the first infection and required him to be hospitalized with supplemental oxygen.

Authors of the case study say they don’t know why the patient displayed more severe symptoms when reinfected.

The patient’s case is not a common experience for most people who get COVID-19 since the man had symptoms for a little over a month during his first infection.

Viral shedding from the first infection was also ruled out since a PCR test can “remain positive for over 104 days” as people who are asymptomatic or had mild cases exhibit longer viral shedding than those who experience severe symptoms, according to researchers who were not involved in this study.

Cycle Threshold Value

Epoch Times Photo
EqualTox lab workers process COVID-19 tests in Tustin, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In the updated guidance, a PRC test cycle threshold value of 33 cycles was indicated for who is considered positive during a second infection. This is the first time that a threshold value has been specified by the CDC.

The cycle threshold value is the number of amplifications it takes the test machine to detect the virus’s genetic material, providing valuable information on whether a person is infectious or at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.

Knowing the cycle threshold of a PCR test allows government and public health officials to better gauge if there is a serious spread of the virus occurring in an area and take appropriate action, instead of only resorting to lockdowns.

“It’s critical that we balance our response to new cases with common sense and avoid the damaging consequences—in lives, money, and scientific credibility—of a second national lockdown,” Gold says.

There is no universal standard cutoff cycle threshold value for the PCR tests being used throughout the country for a positive diagnosis. All test centers use the manufacturers’ threshold value, with many found to be 40 cycles or higher.

A threshold value cutoff of 40 cycles is considered by many medical experts to return false positives, as fragments of a dead virus may be picked up. Lower threshold values mean more viral loads.

What the cycle threshold cutoff value should be varied in discussions among the scientific community, but generally ranges between 25 and 30 with an agreement that patients cannot be contagious above these numbers.

The CDC has its own PCR test, which has a cutoff value of 40 cycles, according to a spokesperson for the federal department in an earlier email to The Epoch Times.