Retest positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA of "recovered" patients with COVID-19: Persistence, sampling issues, or re-infection?

J Med Virol. 2020 Nov;92(11):2263-2265. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26114. Epub 2020 Jun 9.


"Retest Positive" for severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) from "recovered" coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) has been reported and raised several important questions for this novel coronavirus and COVID-19 disease. In this commentary, we discussed several questions: (a) Can SARS-CoV-2 re-infect the individuals who recovered from COVID-19? This question is also associated with other questions: whether or not SARS-CoV-2 infection induces protective reaction or neutralized antibody? Will SARS-CoV-2 vaccines work? (b) Why could some recovered patients with COVID-19 be re-tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA? (c) Are some recovered pwith atients COVID-19 with re-testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA infectious? and (d) How should the COVID-19 patients with retest positive for SARS-CoV-2 be managed?

Keywords: SARS coronavirus < virus classification; coronavirus < virus classification; disease control; immunity/immunization < epidemiology; persistent infection < infection.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Testing*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Reinfection / diagnosis*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Selection Bias


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • RNA, Viral