Travelers have been looking for that silver bullet to put covid-19 behind us, and while it’s not quite here yet, some amazing news has emerged. A promising study from Korean Centers For Disease Control And Prevention shows that once you’ve had and recovered from Coronavirus you’re no longer contagious, even on the off chance you test positive again.

In other words, a traveler who had the virus and recovered in quarantine, but tests positive again at a later date is of no concern to others, and also means fewer people will  be capable of spreading covid-19 in the future. Why and how could someone test positive again? Because tests can’t tell between dead virus particles being shed by the body, and live ones, which creates so called “false positives”, says the study.

These false positives were an area of grave concern for scientists fearing the virus could come back, but these results conclude it cannot. The move is already changing how countries look to reopen, and could be the catalyst needed to unlock borders and safe travels along with them, sooner than later. Even then, no one is saying you have to go…

Seou, South Korea city skyline at twilight.South Korean and Japanese researchers have put particular focus on what happens after someone is infected, and experts from both countries have also looked back to SARS, the last acute respiratory illness to see if there’s any wisdom hidden away. In South Korea, it appears some has been found, according to Bloomberg.

Studies show that once recovered from covid-19, even those who test positive again at a later date cannot transmit the disease. Any positive results after recovery could simply be the shedding of dead virus cells, and don’t actually mean you are contagious or suffering.

A key barrier for reopening society has been centered around the question of whether people could become reinfected, and if so, if they would then be equally likely to transmit the virus to others. The answer to the second, crucial part of the question is no, according to studies conducted by the Korean Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

If you had coronavirus and recovered in quarantine, you’d be unable to transmit it to others and cause harm once recovered. It’s important to define “recovered’ since days must pass after what you believe to be fully recovered. Even once recovered, social distancing and hygiene measures are vital for all.

Even if you tested positive again weeks later, you’d be of no risk to others, according to the study. It’s not the news of vaccine many hope for, but it’s an extremely positive sign that the virus may eventually run out of victims, or those easily capable of spread, as social distancing continues. We can only hope.

Initiatives to slow the spread must remain in place, and those most at risk are no better off in the interim, but as populations lower the “R” and a great percentage of people recover, risks are dropping daily with each survivor, as they turn into someone incapable of spread.

To put it bluntly, Bloomberg states “South Korea will no longer consider people infectious after recovering from the illness”. Quelling any doubts of a hopeful future, three more laboratories around the world, including Stanford and USAMRIID, of the US Department of Defense believe they’re closer to a vaccine than ever before.

Results are likely to change how countries view results from those showing antibodies for covid-19, after a bout with the virus. The Bloomberg report also notes that researchers in Singapore, as part of the Duke-NUS Medical School, have noted that if coronavirus is anything like SARS, it’s possible for people to hold onto those antibodies, which fight off the virus, up to 17 years later.

What Will It All Mean For Travel

Swab tests before or after a flight will now be viewed differently, with particular focus on those shown to have already had the coronavirus. If you’ve had it, you no longer pose any risk, according to the study. The same logic would apply to workplaces, schools and other areas where officials are keen to see negative tests before entry. Now, a positive test for a past case will do just fine.

By no means does this suggest going out and getting covid-19 is a wise idea. It couldn’t be further from the truth. What it means is that if you’ve been unfortunate to suffer from it, or lucky enough to avoid it, people who can get you sick are lowering in number by the day, by the fact that once recovered, they’re no longer an issue. Let’s just hope it holds true…

With thanks to our friend Jason Kane.

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