Jefa de la unidad de enfermedades emergentes de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), Maria Van Kerkhove

Washington: The head of the emerging diseases unit of the World Health Organization (WHO), Maria Van Kerkhove, warned of the possibility that people who have already overcome the coronavirus will be re-infected.

“It doesn’t mean it is happening a lot; we know it is possible. It is something that we knew could be possible based on our experience with other human coronaviruses”, Van Kerkhove said during a live question and answer session.

Kerkhove emphasizes that the Hong Kong case is not believed to be the only one, although it is the first documented case of reinfection of the 23.5 million in the world. “We hope that infected people will develop an antibody response, an immune response that lasts for some time; so we are learning”, she said.

The specialist reiterated that, regardless of whether someone has been infected or not, the suggested social distancing guidelines should be followed. “Yes, we may start to see a reinfection, but we have the tools that can prevent people from getting infected”, she added, highlighting that each individual has the power to avoid infection and the responsibility to prevent transmission to others.

On the other hand, Kerkhove stressed that the possibility of a reinfection does not change the progress towards an effective vaccine against the coronavirus and does not mean that it will not work. Its development and the studies, in terms of the response and protection it will provide, will come from ongoing clinical studies. “We are still developing vaccines and incredible progress is being made”, she concluded.

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