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Vanderbilt doctor: Stop using COVID test to confirm recovery from the virus


The coronavirus can linger inside the body even after a patient is recovered and no longer contagious (FOX 17 News)
The coronavirus can linger inside the body even after a patient is recovered and no longer contagious (FOX 17 News)
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The coronavirus can linger inside the body even after a patient is recovered and no longer contagious. For that reason, infectious disease doctors are no longer recommending a patient get a test to confirm they have recovered.

Dr. Bill Schaffner who works in infectious diseases for Vanderbilt University Medical Center said, “We’ve learned so much more about how this virus infects the human body that now we can anticipate those things and try to prevent some of those ill effects.”

Testing is not only critical for containing the spread of the virus, but it helps doctors and state leaders make decisions, so a duplicative positive only muddies the water.

Schaffner now tells patients who are recovering that the virus can linger in several parts of the body even after their symptoms have disappeared.

“We are learning that people after they recover from the virus, they can have positive tests for quite a while,” Schaffner explained. “That doesn’t mean they’re contagious, but it does mean those viral remnants [persist].”

The presence of lingering traces of the virus also complicates the use of wastewater or bulk testing to gauge the virus’ spread because pieces of the virus would still show up from a patient that has long recovered from the infection caused by proteins attaching to cells in different parts of the body.

The Tennessee Department of Health told FOX 17 News it is seeing cases of duplicative positive tests from individuals that already had a confirmed COVID-19 infection, but they are distinguishing those situations by keeping up with “case count” as well as the total number of positives.

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Department spokesperson Bill Christian wrote, “They are counted as a case only once, but in the total testing numbers, each test result is counted.”

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