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You CAN get COVID-19 twice—and that’s good news!

By Shlomo Maital

Can you get the novel coronavirus twice? Get it, recover, and later get it again?

The answer is yes! And experts tell us, unexpectedly, against the odds, this is good news.

   First the evidence, from Hong Kong and South Korea:

A Hong Kong man has been infected with the novel coronavirus for a second time, researchers at the University of Hong Kong have found.  The patient had been cleared of Covid-19 and was released from hospital in April but tested positive for the virus when he returned from Spain earlier this month. The research team said the findings suggest that Covid-19 immunity does not last for long and “there is evidence that some patients have waning antibody level after a few months.”  The researchers also noted that the two virus strains contracted by the man in April and August were “clearly different.”

A similar report came from South Korea. A patient in South Korea had the virus, recovered, and four months later caught it again. This was verified.

   So this sounds AWFUL, right? Immunity is rather short-lived!

   An Israeli epidemiologist, Dr. Levi, explained on TV why this is actually good news.

     The Korean who got it again was asymptomatic. He was not ill at all. The virus CAN return – but when it does, it meets the body’s defenses, and while they are not air tight, they are strong enough to keep people from getting really sick. Kind of like the common cold, also a corona-type virus. We get colds all the time. There is no vaccine. And we recover fairly quickly.

     The Korean had the virus, twice, and it was detected. But the second time, it did not have much of a punch – not even a weak left jab.

       What we do learn from this, is that this novel coronavirus is going to be part of our lives for a rather long time, maybe forever. We will learn to adapt and live with it. Darwin said that it is not the species best suited for survival that thrive, but the species best able to adapt to rapid unexpected changes in the environment.

   We humans fit that bill. And we will adapt faster than the virus can mutate.






COVID-19: Lessons from Three Smart Small Asian Nations

Part 2. Hong Kong

 By Shlomo Maital

   Hong Kong is officially known as “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”. It has 7.4 million people and GDP per capita of some $46,000 – higher than that of Israel.

   Here, according to the New York Times, is how Hong Kong dealt with the COVID-19 crisis, influenced strongly from its traumatic experience with SARS in 2003:

  “ Hong Kong’s heavy death toll from SARS, nearly 300 people, has spurred residents in the semiautonomous Chinese territory to exercise vestigial muscles of disease prevention this time around, even as the local authorities initially dithered on whether to close the border with mainland China. Nearly everyone, it seemed, began squirting hand sanitizer. Malls and offices set up thermal scanners.”

   “The most important thing is that Hong Kong people have deep memories of the SARS outbreak,” said Kwok Ka-ki, a lawmaker in Hong Kong who is also a doctor. “Every citizen did their part, including wearing masks and washing their hands and taking necessary precautions, such as avoiding crowded places and gatherings.”

   “The Hong Kong government eventually caught up to the public’s caution. Borders were tightened. Civil servants were ordered to work from home, prompting more companies to follow suit. Schools were closed in January, until at least the end of April.”

     “On Tuesday, the government of Hong Kong, where only 157 cases have been confirmed, announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers from abroad beginning later this week.”

     SARS outbreak occurred nearly 17 years ago, in 2003. Despite this, the memory of SARS and the measures adopted at that time are fresh in the minds of Hong Kong citizens. It was the people of Hong Kong who acted, even before the government and administrative officials took action, in the COVID-19 outbreak.

     I am certain the same will be true of COVID-19. We will remain this for generations. And hopefully, in the next pandemic, we will act promptly, as Hong Kong did.


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital