COVID-19 update and press conference – February 17, 2021. (PMO)

Senior Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Anton Best, has declared that there is no hard evidence of re-infection in persons who have already had COVID-19.

He emphasised this point today as he responded to a question regarding encountering persons during testing that were re-infected with the virus during the during the COVID-19 update and press conference at Ilaro Court.

Dr. Best said that there are anecdotal reports across the globe that re-infection after contracting the virus is a possibility and that it has happened in some patients. However, he maintained that there is “no evidence to say definitively that it has happened”.

“We have had situations where persons have been tested abroad; had a positive test; discharged from isolation, but they came to Barbados and was tested again, and the test was positive. So, the immediate assumption is this is possibly a re-infection.”

“What you have to appreciate is that there is something called virus shedding which occurs for a very long time in some cases. The test cannot discern if the virus is viable. So, it is going to detect the virus once we did the swab, but we cannot say if the virus is dead or alive. So, right now, we do not have any clear-cut hard evidence that we have had cases of re-infection in Barbados,” Dr. Best said.

Addressing the issue of conducting tests on persons receiving the vaccines, the Senior Medical Officer explained that this was not stipulated in the protocols and pointed out that assessment before the vaccine is administered was a contra-indication for taking the vaccine.

“We are not thinking necessarily that you may have COVID, but if you have any viral infection, including of course COVID, your immune system is activated, and it is not the ideal time to take a vaccine and this is across the board for any vaccine. Vaccines need a healthy immune system in order to work. So, if any signs or symptoms indicating that your immune system is currently being activated, we will not give you the vaccine at that point in time. There is no indication, there is no need to do an Antigen test for COVID ahead of receiving the COVID vaccine,” Dr. Best explained.

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