Coronavirus resurgence on aircraft carrier raises immunity concerns

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Some sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt ship tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time, raising concerns over infection. Photo credit: Chief Mass Communication Specialist Matthew R. White/US Navy via

Thirteen sailors on the USS Theodore Roosevelt tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time last week, raising concerns over reinfection.

This proves that doctors are still learning new information about the virus daily, says Dr. Michael Wilkes, a professor of medicine and global health at UC Davis. 

“It's a game changer, suggesting that at least some healthy people don't develop long lasting immunity,” he says. 

When infected with other viruses, such as measles, the body often develops antibodies that prevent reinfection. But Wilkes says it’s different with coronaviruses, such as COVID-19, MERs and SARs. 

“We know that immunity lasts a lot less, usually a couple of months to a couple of years,” he notes. 

In the case of the USS Theodore sailors, Wilkes says either they weren’t completely healthy when they were retested, or they’ve been reinfected. 

He says more research is necessary to find out whether reinfection is possible.

Discovering more symptoms of COVID-19

Wilkes says there’s also growing evidence that COVID-19 causes more symptoms than previously thought, including strokes, vascular complications, and Kawasaki Disease (also known as pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome or PIMS).

There are some indications that the virus is lasting longer than previously expected. He says that one in 10 people with COVID-19 might have the virus for longer than two weeks. In some cases, he says it might last eight to 10 weeks.  




Chery Glaser