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CDC backtracks guidance on three-month window of immunity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) backtracked guidance it issued earlier this month, maintaining that people are not immune to reinfection to the coronavirus after recovering from the disease.

“On August 3, 2020, CDC updated its isolation guidance based on the latest science about COVID-19 showing that people can continue to test positive for up to 3 months after diagnosis and not be infectious to others. Contrary to media reporting today, this science does not imply a person is immune to reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the 3 months following infection,” the CDC said in a press release.

“The latest data simply suggests that retesting someone in the 3 months following initial infection is not necessary unless that person is exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19 and the symptoms cannot be associated with another illness,” it added.

The statement marks a reversal from guidance the CDC issued earlier this month saying that a person who has recovered from COVID-19 will likely be safe from reinfection for three months. The earlier guidance represented the first recognition of a defined immunity period for people who have recovered from the coronavirus.

Past research has indicated that antibodies that form in people who recover from COVID-19 fade in subsequent months.

The CDC maintained late Friday night that “People with COVID-19 should be isolated for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until 24 hours after their fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications.”