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Can I get the coronavirus twice?

AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin;

Can I get the coronavirus twice?

It seems possible, though how often it happens isn’t known.

Researchers in Hong Kong recently reported evidence of a person who got the coronavirus a second time, months after an initial infection.

The finding has not yet been published in a journal. But scientists said the 33-year-old man had mild symptoms the first time and none the second time, suggesting his immune system may have provided some protection against serious illness even if it could not prevent a reinfection. His more recent infection was detected through screening and testing at the Hong Kong airport, and researchers said genetic tests revealed different strains of the virus.

Several other possible cases have been reported, including a U.S. man who was sicker the second time than the first.

Even if people can get reinfected, the World Health Organization says it likely wouldn’t happen regularly.

Health experts generally believe people who had COVID-19 will have some immunity against a repeat infection. But they don’t know how much protection, or how long it would last.

This is important because if immunity wears off, it could pose a challenge for vaccines. Some experts say booster shots may be needed.

It’s also unclear whether reinfected people would be able to spread the virus to others. That’s another reason scientists say people should continue to wear masks, social distance and practice good hygiene.

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The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org.

More Viral Questions:

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Has the coronavirus mutated in any significant way?

Can the coronavirus spread through the air?


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronaviruses transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States