There is so much data available online for COVID-19 and it changes daily. The World Wide Web offers information on how you can protect yourself from COVID-19, symptoms of COVID-19 and how long you should quarantine if you contracted COVID-19, but there is no real data on when you are the most contagious once you’ve been infected.
According to the CDC, available data indicates that persons with mild to moderate COVID-19 remain infectious no longer than 10 days after symptom onset.
“Persons with more severe to critical illness or severe immunocompromise likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset,” the CDC website states. “Recovered persons can continue to shed detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA in upper respiratory specimens for up to three months after illness onset, albeit at concentrations considerably lower than during illness, in ranges where replication-competent virus has not been reliably recovered and infectiousness is unlikely. The etiology of this persistently detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA has yet to be determined. Studies have not found evidence that clinically recovered persons with persistence of viral RNA have transmitted SARS-CoV-2 to others. These findings strengthen the justification for relying on a symptom-based, rather than test-based, strategy for ending isolation of these patients so that persons who are by current evidence no longer infectious are not kept unnecessarily isolated and excluded from work or other responsibilities.”
In doing my research for this article, I spoke with Dr. Elliot Cazes, a local OBGYN in Tampa.
“Patients are most contagious for the first five to 10 days after they’ve tested positive,” Dr. Cazes said. “Unfortunately, there is no specific way to know other than to rely on the positive test result. Once a patient has tested positive, they would need to stay in quarantine for 10 to 14 days.”
Most people who are infected with COVID-19 produce antibodies, which are proteins that make it harder for the virus to infect cells. Antibody levels typically fall once the immediate threat of infection declines.
Several new studies have found that COVID-19 antibody levels decline, but then stabilize and remain in the blood even two to three months after infection. Other recent studies found COVID-specific B cells and T cells in the blood, months after people recovered.
This all suggests that the immune system would be ready to react quickly and strongly if re-exposed to COVID-19. (Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu.)
The best way to stay safe and free of contracting COVID-19 is to wash your hands, wear a mask and practice social distancing.