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Reactivated or reinfected COVID-19, what now?




These are just a few words that describe the incredible change the coronavirus has caused since it was thrust upon the world.

Despite the extraordinary work the Irish government, county councils, and patient organisations have done in such a short time to keep the virus at bay, you cannot but feel anxious and stunned at how strikingly fast COVID-19 has caused societal mayhem. Yet, in Ireland, we are somewhat cushioned in the knowledge that as an island, we’re protected by our shores making traveling to and fro more difficult, and that community spirit will reign in an equally stubborn manner when a country can become a shadow of what it used to be, not because it wanted to, but because it needed to.

Is this our version of the global 1918-1919 H1N1 influenza pandemic?

As a current affairs addict, and despite the detailed press releases of our own government and for example, the extraordinary daily briefings by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, I must admit I have overdosed on coronavirus news.

It is not as much the illness itself that is causing the overdose-feeling, but the idea of unimaginable heartache some are willing to inflict on others for political gain, or because they are bored, don’t believe the hype or simply because their IQ cannot reach that level of medical understanding that was is happening, isn’t “just the flu.”

Furthermore, the more I hear about ‘flattening the curve’ or ‘social distancing’, the more I want to stand on a soapbox and yell at people who don’t adhere to the repeated pleading of governments to help stem the spread of COVID-19. And somewhere, a mini-me has been shouting for weeks because a flattening will not become a distant memory, but a repeat exercise.

As a dear follower of Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, you know that I have an otherwise optimistic outlook on life, and especially on life with a neurodegenerative illness,. not because I want to, but because I need to. Yet, here I am, “You know you cannot just get rid of a new virus that easy, it just doesn’t work that way! Let’s be honest here. Do you really believe that COVID-19 ‘will be wiped out’ once the ‘last’ victim has passed away?”

Don’t be stupid

COVID-19 is said to transfer the virus from human to human even before someone gets any symptoms. There have also been human to animal transfers. Additionally, after transfer happens, a virus doesn’t just put on its Dr Martens boots and marches out of an individual’s immune system, a family, a country ‘once it is under control.’

As far as we know, it might not march out of the body of an asymptomatic someone. Furthermore, it might not even create antibodies – molecules made by the immune system in response to a pathogen’s attack, where someone becomes immune to the coronavirus after having been diagnosed with the virus before.

In fact, we don’t know if there will be long-term immunity or not.

And then what?

That antibody testing the US is hammering on about to test people before they can return to the workforce? That vaccine we are all waiting for?

Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health just mentioned that “some social distancing might have to continue until 2022 to curb the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.”

This is why we need to take this virus seriously; other countries have already seen a second wave of infections.

So, what are we waiting for?

Imported cases

Hong Kong tried to remain fairly virus-free with just a few cases in an 11 million population. But, once people who fled the city returned, so did COVID-19, mainly by students or expatriates returning from Europe or the United States. And, as I always say in a sarcastic manner simply because it is so common sense, ‘Onwards and upwards we go again.’

Ergo, of course, the coronavirus will not just magically disappear. Those immune to factual scientific data like Donald Trump and Fox News, let’s be adults here and leave the fairy tales to children. You cannot reactivate an economy with a ‘bang’ in a matter of weeks because your Wall Street friends are nagging you. You cannot just flick a switch and get back to the way it used to be.

What shocks me most about the last few months, is the breaking news that U.S. intelligence officials warned the Trump administration in a November intelligence report by the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), that ‘a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing the patterns of life and business and posing a threat to the population.’

Analysts concluded it could be cataclysmic if the virus would cross borders into the US.

Feel free to do a tally, and then double that figure to show the number of parents who have lost their sons or daughters. That’s an awful lot of blood to have on one’s hands, but that of course, is my view. When an administration – or rather, its inept leader says out loud he will not take any responsibility for COVID-19 and that he gave himself a 10 out of 10 when asked to rate his job performance, you must feel nauseated by the lack of empathy shown even when 12,000 people have passed away in the US.

And, going back?

Going back to when we didn’t know about the coronavirus? The pandemic has already proven it is a turning point for social and economic governing bodies, globalisation, liberalism, and even the environment and cultural habits have changed.

Hence, my sincerest apologies, but you cannot go back.

‘Back’ is where it all went wrong.

‘Back’ is the big why, what, or how.

The big ‘if’ or ‘when’.

The answer to the above ‘big’ questions is called ‘science.’

We cannot go back and rip the virus out of the air, the ground, or ‘patient zero’. Neither can we go back to hearing presidential quackery of someone who now believes himself to be a pharmacist as well. Instead of throwing names of medicines out in the public hoping someone will grab one that will stick, virology and immunology researchers need to come up with a vaccine that has undergone several trials as to not endanger patients with possible dangerous side effects.

As for side effects, I can tell you a few stories about ‘how not to mix medicines,’ and how easy it can lead to emergency room drama. Being on a mix of about 29 neuropathic painkillers and other types of tablets to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms, I have learned the hard way not to have any cough syrup for example. As mundane as cold medicines sound, it has been the reason why I required urgent treatment because of mixing medicines up without proper evaluations beforehand.

Reactivated coronavirus?

The World Health Organisation has opened an investigation after 91 patients who had been cleared of COVID-19 were being prepared for discharge but tested positive again. Officials say that, rather than being reinfected, patients may be going through a “reactivated” coronavirus bout. “We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and then after some days testing positive again,” the WHO said.

According to Andrew Cuomo, the longer you are on a ventilator, the less chance you have of surviving. But, like everywhere around the world, there are exemptions to the rule: elderly patients who spent ten days in an ICU bed and live to tell the tale, able to go home. Long may they continue to live. That however doesn’t make you Superman, Wolverine or Lara Croft, and neither are those in that famous six degrees of separation around you.

I am not writing this to put a stop to your optimism, although you might wonder why I am sounding the alarm bell again. For just a few seconds, I am here to be that reality check while you are munching on chocolate eggs and forget that once all this is over, you will not go back to the way it used to be.

If a government is willing to shut down its economy and cause thousands of instant job losses, something must be amiss. When they tell you that elderly people should stay indoors, having to watch their grandchildren from the living room window like animals in a zoo, they are asking you the one thing they know will break both your hearts. Being old and sick isn’t exactly a speed dating game, you may see a lot of people pass by, but not all families will have the decorum to at least say a few more words.

So, please, just be a bit less selfish and more selfless and think ahead. We cannot go backward in time and change the past; we can only change a future that is about to unfold.

Stay safe.


For more info about COVID-19 in Ireland and abroad:

World Health Organization (WHO)

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)

Coronavirus (COVID-19), Center for Disease Control and Prevention

SPANISH: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Coronavirus (COVID-19), Health Service Executive, Ireland

COVID-19 Health Surveillance Monitor (Ireland)

Symptoms and causes



Restricted movements and self-isolation

Protect yourself and others

Minding your mental health during COVID-19

COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Government of Ireland

Latest updates

New restrictions: Exceptions for leaving your home

Stay at home: The latest public health measures

Updates and information from across government

National Action Plan in Response to COVID-19

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC)

Coronavirus updates, RTE News

blog-awards-2018_winners-gold-mpu-e1571651056851-12018 Winner Best Blog Post with ‘3443 Needles’, Blog Awards Ireland, Ashville Media Group, Dublin, Ireland
Everyday Health: Top 10 MS Blogs to Follow in 2020
Feedspot: Top 50 MS Blogs to follow in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
MyTherapy: Multiple Sclerosis Blogs: 10 of the Best in 2019
Everyday Health: Top 10 MS Blog of 2018
MyTherapy: Best MS Blog for Simplicity 2018
Ireland Blog Awards: Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  • Tessa Lush

    “You cannot just flick a switch and get back to the way it used to be.”

    This is what people need to hear. You’ve put into words my fears about how (or if) the virus will leave. People about to be discharged only to find they still have COVID-19 needs to be investigated urgently.

    Thank you for your great piece Willeke. Stay safe.

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