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Challenges in Testing for SARS-CoV-2 Among Patients Who Recovered From COVID-19

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

Among patients who have recovered from COVID-19, repeated testing for SARS-CoV-2 may be done weeks or months after infection either as part of routine screening (eg, screening nursing home personnel on a weekly basis to prevent transmission of infections to patients) or because of the development of symptoms that are worrisome for reinfection. Unfortunately, the interpretation of positive test results in patients who have previously recovered from COVID-19 is fraught. The best widely available test, a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), is very sensitive for fragments of viral RNA and can be positive because of nonviable remnants of the virus. Currently, there is not a widely available test for determining whether the virus can reproduce and transmit infection.

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Article Information

Published Online: November 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7575

Corresponding Author: Mitchell H. Katz, MD, NYC Health and Hospitals, 125 Worth St, Room 514, New York, NY 10013 (mitchell.katz@nychhc.org).

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

References
1.
Liotti  FM , Menchinelli  G , Marchetti  S ,  et al.  Positive SARS-CoV-2 RNA test results among patients who recovered from COVID-19 with prior negative results.   JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 12, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.7570Google Scholar
2.
Tillett  RL , Sevinsky  JR , Hartley  PD ,  et al.  Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study.   Lancet Infect Dis. 2020;2:30764-30767. doi:10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30764-7PubMedGoogle Scholar
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