It had been over a month since Mirabai Nicholson-McKellar was infected with the coronavirus, and the 35-year-old filmmaker thought she was on her way to recovery. Then the shortness of breath came back, followed by chest pains. A visit to the emergency room and a second test for COVID-19 gave another positive result. Just three days earlier, she’d been cleared by health authorities in Australia’s New South Wales state, and was allowed to end her home quarantine after going 72 hours without symptoms.
CNN Anchor Brooke Baldwin shares her experience about contracting COVID-19
“When is this going to end? I think about that constantly,” she said of the twists and turns in her health. “Am I still contagious? How do I know if I’m not contagious?” Her experience adds to a growing number of reports of patients appearing to have a reactivation of symptoms, testing positive again, or even potentially being re-infected. Such incidents don’t align with the generally accepted understanding of how virus infections work and spread.
A false dawn is a promising situation that comes to naught. Some COVID-19 recoveries are being called that. This so-called false-dawn phenomenon is puzzling health experts as they try to come to grips with the mysterious pathogen that emerged only five months ago. Solving the puzzle will inform a broad range of challenges, from the development of an effective vaccine to how soon governments may be able to safely end lock-downs and allow normal life to resume. More immediately, the situation is taking a personal toll, making the journey of recovery a complex and frustrating ordeal for some of the more than 1 million survivors of the pandemic.
So far, there hasn’t been enough research to conclude why symptoms seem to re-emerge in some people, and whether they experience reinfection or if the virus persists for weeks. One possibility is that COVID-19 causes blood clots that may cause potentially dangerous complications unless treated with anticoagulant medications, said Edwin J.R. van Beek, chair of clinical radiology at the University of Edinburgh’s Queens Medical Research Institute. South Korean researchers also offered some clues this week when they reported that so-called nucleic acid tests might be positive based on the detection of dead viral particles that could give the false impression that a patient is still infectious when they’re not.
“Everyone’s trying to figure this out,” said Yvonne Maldonado, an infectious diseases professor at Stanford Medical School. “What happens when people have been sick and infected — are we going to consider them immune and, therefore, not susceptible at all? Or are they immune and serve as potential points of infection for other people?” Officials in countries that managed to suppress an initial wave of the pandemic are dreading the possibility that the virus may have a seasonal pattern and could return in the fall and repeat the nightmare scenario. –MSN