State health officials say 28 people in the state might be re-infected with COVID-19. State epidemiologist Josh Clayton says these are people who tested positive for the virus a second time at least 90 days after their first infection.
Dr. Clayton says the Department of Health is classifying these as “possible reinfections.” He says the CDC has not given official guidance on confirming a COVID-19 re-infection.
“When we’re looking at some of the literature that’s out there, those confirmed reinfections have typically focused on genetic sequencing to determine between the initial and the subsequent infection,” says Clayton.
Genetic sequencing can identify the strain of COVID-19 the person is experiencing. The South Dakota Public Health Lab partners with the University of Minnesota to do genetic sequencing, but Dr. Clayton says the data isn’t available for these 28 people.
“What it comes down to is we often don’t have the initial specimen or the subsequent specimen because they’re tested at an outside laboratory," he explains. "And so we don’t have the opportunity to do that genetic sequencing on a routine basis.”
Dr. Clayton says it’s not yet known how antibodies impact a person’s risk of re-infection with COVID-19.