(ABC4 News) — Those who have caught COVID-19, or coronavirus and already recovered may be wondering if they can catch the virus, which has become a global pandemic, a second time.

The short answer is, experts don’t know yet. And the details are somewhat complicated.

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According to newscientist.com, there have been several reports of people in Japan and China testing positive for the virus a second time after recovering.

However, health.com says that those who test positive for viruses often develop antibodies, which give them immunity.

A study printed in Journal JAMA followed four young medical professionals who all contracted COVID-19 and were treated at Zhongnan Hospital in China in January and February.

All recovered, meaning that their symptoms disappeared and they tested negative for the virus for two consecutive days. After recovery, the subjects quarantined themselves at home for five days and continued to receive tests for the virus. During this time, all subjects tested positive after having tested negative.

An article on livescience.com, which cited the study, stated that it is not unusual for low levels of the virus to remain in the body even after recovery. In the case of the four subjects in the study, the virus levels could have risen slightly after they stopped receiving treatment, which does not necessarily indicate that the virus returned. However, their virus levels never rose enough to result in a return of symptoms, according to the article.

The article went on to state that the fact that the virus appeared to remain in the body even after symptoms stopped, could possibly provide some immunity to the recovered person.

Experts are still researching this topic, and only time will tell if people can catch the virus a second time or if a later positive test could simply be the virus lingering in the system. It is also unknown at this point if those who’ve recovered from the virus are immune to it.

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