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UW doctor criticizes 'confusing' CDC update regarding COVID-19 immunity

The CDC gave guidance that implied that COVID-19 patients might have 90 days of immunity. A University of Washington lung and ICU doctor is urging caution.

SEATTLE — Many people who have recovered from COVID-19 are wondering if they're now immune to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a new passage to its website that gave those patients hope, but some doctors are urging caution.

The two-sentence blurb, which made national headlines on Friday, provides guidance for when to quarantine after possible COVID exposure.

"People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again,” the CDC states.

Dr. Vin Gupta, a University of Washington lung and ICU specialist, criticized the update Friday, saying it gives some people false hope that if they had COVID-19 and recovered, they’re effectively immune for 90 days.

“(The CDC) put out something that's confusing, that does not feel well-researched, because it isn’t, and yet they said it with authority,” Gupta said.

He said evidence on immunity is sparse and the CDC should not signal that patients who recovered don't need to follow the same guidelines as everyone else.

The CDC update has nothing to do with guidelines for wearing face coverings or social distancing, it was only about when to quarantine.

Dr. Gupta said he won't change the advice he gives his patients, which is to act as though everyone is still vulnerable while waiting for more conclusive data on possible immunity.

“There’s a gross lack of information here and the CDC more than anybody needs to be mindful of that,” he said.

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