A new coronavirus study conducted in Korea suggests that those who test positive for coronavirus after recovering from the initial onset of the virus are no longer infectious.
The study, released by the Korean CDC on Monday night, showed that 285 patients who still tested positive for the coronavirus despite apparently recovering were unable to spread any infection.
Additionally, virus samples taken from the group did not grow in culture, confirming the positive test was picking up non-infectious or dead virus particles. Last month, researchers found that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for Covid-19’s nucleic acid did not distinguish between dead and viable virus particles, suggesting that someone who tests positive post-recovery could be no longer infectious.
In light of the new information, the Korean CDC is no longer requiring that individuals test negative before returning to work.
“Under the new protocols, no additional tests are required for cases that have been discharged from isolation,” the Korean CDC announced after the findings, adding that it would now classify “re-positive” cases as “PCR re-detected after discharge from isolation.”
The findings also strengthen the case for antibody tests as an effective way to track herd immunity, with experts so far undecided on how to classify the test results, over fears that antibodies do not prove immunity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said in April that he would be “willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against re-infection.”
“If this virus acts like every other virus that we know, once you get infected, get better, clear the virus, then you’ll have immunity that will protect you against re-infection,” Fauci stated.